Leeds University chemist Stephen Burkinshaw has developed a new kind of nylon polymer bead that could reduce washing machines’ water use by 90 percent. Even better, the beads reduce machines’ overall carbon output by about 40 percent, and they can be reused hundreds of times before being recycled.
The beads tumble with clothes, soap and about a cup of water, trapping dirt in their highly absorbent cores. Development company Xeros will partner with dry-cleaning pioneers GreenEarth Cleaning to launch the technology in commercial machines in late 2010.
“The Xeros cleaning process sounds too good to be true, but breakthrough technologies often do,” says Alex Wilson of Green Building News. “You probably shouldn’t hold off on buying your next horizontal-axis washer waiting for this, but don’t be too quick to dismiss it.”