Starting next year, an unusual type of washing machine will begin hitting commercial laundromats. Instead of water and detergent, the new washer will facilitate cleaning with the use of plastic nylon beads, which dislodge and trap dirt from your clothes.
At the moment, Xeros is still in the prototype stages for their improved version of the laundry staple, which will use 90 percent less water and 70 percent less detergent than current models. Aside from the obvious savings in soap and water, they will also eliminate energy-intensive processes, such as spin cycles and dryer blasts, leading to even lower utility consumption.
The new machines will replace the missing water and detergent with 0.1-inch beads, which can be reused for hundreds of batches of clothes. Made from the same nylon material as conventional carpets, it cleans fabrics by attracting soil, as well as absorbing and trapping grime when mixed with a small amount of water.
Xeros' machine will consist of two nested drums with the nylon beads sitting on the outer side. The beads fall through the mesh of the inner drum to tumble with your laundry, where they perform their cleaning duties. After each wash cycle, the beads push back up to the mesh of the outer drum, where they sit and wait for the next batch of dirty clothes.
Slated for industrial facilities first, it may be a few years before the technology is ready for home use. Sounds like a much-improved way to do laundry, though.
[via Pop Sci]