The FUTURE of laundry...NOW!

Have you ever imagined washing your clothes without getting them wet? - No, me neither- but here at the University of Leeds, it’s a thing.

Researchers here, at the University of Leeds, had this vision over the last 40 years ago. Now, their vision has become a reality.

They managed to develop a polymer-based system, which vastly reduces the amount of the water used in a conventional clothes wash- the 1st real laundry innovation in the last 60 years

Don’t believe us? Well, it’s that good even TIME magazine named it 1 of the 50 best inventions of 2010. 

Polymers are present in nature and also employed widely for very different usages  e.g. medicine, agriculture, plastic manufacturing. Essentially, polymers are molecules of big dimensions comprised by a repeating unit which attributes its properties to the whole molecule. 

Polymer science has been the centre of innovation and research throughout the few last decades and is namely responsible for the appearance of nylon, plastic, bulletproof vests etc. However, scientists at the University of Leeds have transformed what everything we know and applied them to the domestic economy. 

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Investigation into of the details of the domestic laundry process revealed that the water used in a single wash could be divided into 2 parts. The first was shown to be necessary for the crucial processes and the rest, or the so-called “bulk”, solely contributed to the agitation and thermal transfer. 

It was found that the latter could be avoided and replaced by an alternative, a non-aqueous medium. This medium is a polymer containing nitrogen which is a low-cost, readily available and recyclable alternative that becomes highly absorbent in humid conditions

This scientific innovation immediately crossed the walls of labs by establishing a relationship with Xeros Ltd, meaning that the polymer particle system could be commercially launched. A series of highly successful field trials showed that the technology delivers superior cleaning performance to conventional commercial washing systems. Not only that, but it consumes up to 70% less water, 50% less chemicals and 50% less energy, meaning significant cost-savings and environmental benefits (including a reduced carbon footprint).

Xeros has since established a commercial partnership with the US company “GreenEarth” Cleaning, the world’s largest dry-cleaning brand, to optimise the technology and prepare products for market. In 2012, Xeros sold its first commercial-scale (25kg capacity) machine in the UK and installed its first machine at a major US commercial launderer. Machines are now being sold in the US to hotels and laundries in areas with high water costs.

This is one of the many innovative ideas that was developed right here in the University of Leeds. Not only does it prove that technology can be green, but it shows that science does not only take place in labs

Innovative ideas are all around us, from the shoes we wear to the way we wash our clothes- the future is now! 

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What to have your say?

If you have any interesting ideas or know of any interesting research or events taking place on campus, let us know!