UK to give waterless washing machine a spin

LONDON Mon Jun 9, 2008 10:42am EDT

A man puts his laundry into a washing machine, part of an art istallation in Berlin's city center, in a file photo. REUTERS/File

A man puts his laundry into a washing machine, part of an art istallation in Berlin's city center, in a file photo.

Credit: Reuters/File

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LONDON (Reuters) - A washing machine using as little as a cup of water for each washing cycle could go on sale to environmentally conscious Britons next year.

Xeros Ltd, which has been spun out of the University of Leeds to commercialize the technology, said on Monday the new machines would use less than 2 percent of the water and energy of a conventional washing machine.

Plastic chips are used to remove dirt and stains from clothes, leaving them dry and reducing energy consumption as there is no need to use a dryer after the washing cycle, Xeros said in a statement.

The firm, which recently secured investment of almost 500,000 pounds ($984,400) from IP Group Plc, told Reuters the price of the new machines was "not expected to be dramatically different from (conventional) washing machines."

Washing machine usage has risen by 23 percent in the past 15 years. The average UK household uses almost 21 liters of water daily on clothes washing, 13 percent of daily household water consumption, according to Waterwise, a non-government organization focused on decreasing water wastage in Britain.

A typical washing machine uses about 35 kilograms of water for every kilogram of clothes, in addition to the power needed to heat the water and dry the clothes

There are more than two million washing machines sold in Britain annually, with a value of about 1 billion pounds, Xeros said.

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