Virtually waterless washing machine edges closer to production

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by edesignuk, Jun 11, 2008.

  1. edesignuk Moderator emeritus


    Mar 25, 2002
    London, England

    This seems to have some good potential for making a significant dent in the amount of water used in your average domestic household :cool:
  2. Killyp macrumors 68040


    Jun 14, 2006
    Don't consider me stupid, but I really don't see the point in 'saving water'? There's tonnes of the stuff about and it's pretty, no, very easy to make usable...
  3. edesignuk thread starter Moderator emeritus


    Mar 25, 2002
    London, England
    Is that why we have water shortages and hose pipe bans every year?
  4. Belly-laughs macrumors 6502a


    Jun 8, 2003
    you wish
    I think I´d prefer the Electrolux student design competition winner from a few years back; "washing" using ozone gas instead of water.
  5. AppleMatt macrumors 68000


    Mar 17, 2003
    Surely this would increase the wear and tear of the clothes? Being bashed with bits of plastic?

    Or are todays detergents doing as much damage?

    AppleMatt (genuinely doesn't know)
  6. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus


    Jan 9, 2004
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    I dunno... I'd be curious. But remember, today's clothes are being tumbled with other clothes as well as water, anyways, so there are already other hard things with which they're colliding.

    I wonder what the machine's process is to clean the dirt of the plastic, then. If you had to dump the plastic out each time, it would seem even worse environmentally than using the water.
  7. Dagless macrumors Core


    Jan 18, 2005
    Fighting to stay in the EU
    There are enough reservoirs up here for us local 'uns to need not worry. But still it'll be useful for southern counties that get droughts.
  8. iJohnHenry macrumors P6


    Mar 22, 2008
    On tenterhooks
    How much is a plethora, and what is the carbon footprint of same?? :rolleyes:

  9. JML42691 macrumors 68020


    Oct 24, 2007
    I read about this yesterday, I'll be interested to see if this actually works as good as it is made out to be, but I am not so sure that it will really kick off as a popular item.
  10. Evangelion macrumors 68040

    Jan 10, 2005
    Water is a finite resource, and making contaminated water drinkable consumes energy and resources. Hell, water is one of the reasons for the mid-East conflict! Furthermore, more water you use, the more energy it takes to heat that water up, so it can be used for washing.

    that said, I too am skeptical when it comes to wear 'n tear on the clothes. But we shall see....
  11. PlaceofDis macrumors Core

    Jan 6, 2004
    as has already been said: water is not inexhaustible.

    its an interesting concept, and i suppose the wear/tear depends on how soft and flexible the 'plastic' is, which really isn't the best idea either do to thats manufacturing process... etc.
  12. BoyBach macrumors 68040


    Feb 24, 2006

    You might want to re-evaluate that statement:

    Plus, less water use = lower water bills = more money in my arse pocket! :D
  13. velocityg4 macrumors 601


    Dec 19, 2004
    Well even though water use would decrease would not the use of plastics greatly increase. Then those plastics stay around for long periods of time and also increase the use of fossil fuels.

    For the environmentally conscious I would say current lower energy washers combined with waiting until you have a full laundry load is the best solution.

    This just seems like one of those less than useful solutions like Ethanol. Sure you use less fossil fuels, but fossil fuels are still used in growing and production of Ethanol plus you have to use massive amounts of Water to grow the crops and wipe out extremely massive tracks of Wild habitat to grow the crops needed for ethanol. If you were to replace fossil fuels completely by running the equipment for production and the worlds vehicles with ethanol and other bio-fuels you would likely have to level most of the worlds forests and use all of the fresh water. To avoid using the fresh water you would likely have to cover the coast lines with desalinization plants and nuclear reactors.
  14. friarbayliff macrumors regular

    Jul 20, 2004
    MN / IN
    Like anything else, there is a trade-off in the alternative solution. Nothing is going to be 'perfect' or completely environmentally benign. To me, it all depends on how this solution plays out, especially with respect to the reuseability of the plastic chips, how much water/resources is needed to clean these once they have cleaned your dirty clothes, and how often they need to be replaced.

    The water and petroleum requirements of making any kind of plastic is huge, so these things better be highly reuseable. Even so, the ability of this technology to offset water usage in locations where water shortages are a big concern is a very neat idea.
  15. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    Right now, the clothing is cleaned in water because the water has detergent, and your shirt gets entirely immersed in water, leaving no spots untouched.

    How the heck are plastic chips going to be able to clean every spot on my shirt? :confused:

    I like the idea of re-using bath water for washing clothes. My girlfriend's parents do this in Japan. It sounds disgusting, but honestly, most of that water is actually very clean, and it's a waste of clean water and energy if it goes back down into the drain for re-processing.

    Oh, and her parents own a washing machine that used less water than a conventional top-loading machine, and perhaps even a front-loading machine. The machine was a top-loading machine, which normally means VERY high water usage. However, their machine used very little water, and even that water was clean "waste water". Also, the method it uses to clean clothes seems to work much better than the top-loading machines I'm more familar with. Most top-loading machines have an "agitator" (aka: a stick) in the centre of the machine that spins, trying to shake your clothes. Useless. My girlfriend's parents' laundry machine cleaned my clothing far better than any top-loader I have ever used. You can tell just by watching the water change from clear to brown during the wash.
  16. notjustjay macrumors 603


    Sep 19, 2003
    Canada, eh?
    There are certainly ways we can optimize things. Whenever I have a nice soothing hot shower, I think about all that energy that's gone into making the water nice and hot, only to contact my body for a second or two before going down the drain, never to be used again. Why not recapture it for something useful? Even if the water simply ends up going through some heat exchange coils, it could help reduce home heating costs in the winter. Or collect that grey water for watering plants, washing the car, hosing down the deck and patio.

    I saw a photo of a toilet with a sink built into the top of the toilet tank. When you flush the toilet, you wash your hands in the little sink -- and that water drains down and fills the toilet tank for the next flush. Brilliant!
  17. faust macrumors regular


    Sep 11, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    Lemme know when purification plants become scarce, or perhaps when water runs low. We may be surrounded by it for the most part, but that doesn't mean it is EASILY able to be used for drinking.

    Besides, isn't that what people said about oil? "Oh sure! Dig away! Oil is FOREVER..."
  18. themadchemist macrumors 68030


    Jan 31, 2003
    Chi Town
    If the plastic beads have a long lifetime and this thing doesn't use way more energy than a conventional washing machine, then the cost savings might make up for any additional wear and tear to clothes (if there is any).
  19. iJohnHenry macrumors P6


    Mar 22, 2008
    On tenterhooks
    When I first read the listing in the Forum threads, I immediately thought of waves of ultra-sound.

    Very little footprint in that method, if feasible.
  20. flyfish29 macrumors 68020


    Feb 4, 2003
    New HAMpshire
    IN the grand scheme of things, there is a significantly decreasing amount of water on this earth that is not contaminated. The Earth is a great water filter, but that natural water filtration system takes a long time to work. Because of such an increased demand for water (more people, more crops to water to feed the increased population, our increased need to wash our cars, water our yards, hose off our decks, power spray off our houses, etc.)

    The increased amount of heavy metals, jet fuels, fuel additives, etc. that are polluting our water ways is a real problem.

    You might benefit from doing some research on our water issue world wide to become more educated.

    OH and if it is so cheap to get clean water, why has my water bill gone up 200% in the last two years in my town. I pay more per month for my water than I do my cell phones (two phones on family plan!!) (No iPhone unfortunately!#@##) :(
  21. zap2 macrumors 604


    Mar 8, 2005
    Washington D.C
    my chem teacher were go crazy on you right now(but in a way which fills you with knowledge)

    Basically there is a very limited amount of water, and while in countries like the US and UK we're good ok for now, other countries are not. And cleaning water is not "very easy". The amount of work it takes to clean a water shed up is massive, and must take place in every part of a community to have a big effect.

    edit-maybe the UK isn't as great with water as I thought....either way we have a lot of work ahead of us on this issue, a major one being education
  22. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    Yep, in Japan. My girlfriend's toilet does that. :eek: I never really thought about it until now, but she has the coolest s*** in the world, and I sit here on a Mac forum discussing gadgets that aren't nearly as cool as what she uses every day. Good ideas are worthless if they're never implemented.

    I don't think Japan is ahead of everyone else because they're smarter than everyone else. I think that the Japanese are ahead because waste less ideas.
  23. Roger1 macrumors 65816


    Jun 3, 2002
    Some of us have to pay for water usage as part of our utility bill (water, sewer, trash). The less water used, the less sewage generated, the less you spend.
  24. Metatron macrumors 6502


    Jul 2, 2002
    Saving water on a planet covered 2/3 by oceans, man with mastery of nuclear energy, and knowledge to build desalination plants. Let those with the shortages suffer until they give in.

  25. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    You are right that water is the one thing we have the most of. But transporting it is expensive, You need pumps and pipes. But also after it is used you have to transport it back through a sewage system, more pumps and pipes. It needs to be treated at each end which costs energry.

    I think the ideal washing machine would use a closed system. The water would be held in a big storage tank and used to wash cloths then filtered and put back in the tank. After ever use of the filter, the filter could be cleaned using back flow. Only the small amount of water used to backflush the filter would have to go down the drain and be replaced from the tap. This way you could used maybe a liter or less per load of wash.

    The other big cost in washing cloths is heating the water. You waste a lot of energy by sending hot water down the drain. A washer that filtered and re-used the water would save some energy on the second load

    Back when I owned a sailboat I'd use salt water for many things. Like cooking. You can boil pasta in salt water and then rinse with just a cup of fresh water. I also cleaned dishes in salt water, same for the crew, salt water bucket showers. I don't see any reason why not to wash cloths in salt water as long as the final rinse is fresh water, I've done that many times on the boat.

    Where I live, in So Calif. (Redondo Beach) we have water mains for re-cycled water. this is sewage that has been treated. It is clean enough for many uses. In theory one could drink it but it is marked as non-potable. We see it used here for watering puplic parks, schools and roadway medians. This water then finds it's way back to the water table or the ocean.

    The Earth has many rocks too. Maybe even more rock than seawater. But have you ever had to buy rock delived to the house? It goes for about $100 per cubic yard. You don't really pay for the rock yu pay for delivery of the rock. Same with water.

Share This Page