Revolutionary technology, developed in South Yorkshire to radically reduce the electricity, detergent and water used by washing machines has won the praises of Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.
The Sheffield Hallam MP made his remarks during a visit to Advanced Manufacturing Park-based Xeros, to celebrate the sale of its first machine – to high street laundry chain Johnsons.
Xeros’s technology uses nylon polymer beads that attract dirt when they are tumbled with clothes in one of its machines, which uses 70 per cent less water, 50 per cent less electricity and 50 per cent less detergent than a conventional machine.
“It takes your breath away. It is such a simple idea, but it is so revolutionary,” said Mr Clegg.
“It could save billions and billions of litres of water over time. The implications are profound in terms of water and energy use.
“This is a great example of what we want to see happening in the British economy. It was academics that first came up with the idea and it has been translated, partly thanks to support from the government and private investors, into something that hopefully make its way into the shops fairly soon.”
Xeros’s technology offers a number of benefits above saving water and energy.
Using beads means coloured and white clothing can be washed together without any fear of the dye running and the beads are gentler to the clothing than water, whilst also reducing creasing.
Xeros’s chief scientific officer Steve Jenkins says the polymer beads can be used at least 500 times before they need to be replaced, but can then be used in plastics plants to make automotive components.
And, although Xeros’s machines cost more than conventional ones, it only takes a year to pay back those costs, after which they continue to make financial and ecological savings for their owners.
The first Xeros machines – capable of washing up to 25kg of clothes at a time – are aimed at the commercial cleaning market, which includes hotels and institutions like prisons and hospitals, as well as high street cleaners.
One of Xeros’s commercial machines completed a successful test at a US hotel and the company sees major opportunities in both the US commercial and domestic markets as well as closer to home.
Company chairman John Samuel says the first sales are likely to go to organisations needing to replace ageing conventional machines, but he reckons once the financial and ecological benefits of Xeros’s machines are more widely recognised companies will see the sense in replacing machines before they reach the end of their life.
Xeros is currently developing machines for the domestic market and has plans to launch a machins that take an 8kg load, for the American market, and a 5kg load for the European market, in the near future.