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Friday, June 6, 2014

The end of the washing machine?

Hi-tech washing machines
By Sally Stacey

Every year there are a number of significant competitions to encourage students and inventors to dream up new concepts that will improve at least some of our lives. The finalists in such events have generally created something truly impressive which could aid safety, help the disabled or assist industry. This year, however, a young innovator has come up with an idea which could help almost everyone in the developed world.

The concept

A Colombian student has invented a piece of kit which could render washing machines obsolete in the home, thereby making life a great deal easier, saving energy bills and helping the environment. Now that is quite some achievement – if the equipment really works.

The Luna

Juan Camilo Restrepo Villamizar has produced the Luna, a hi-tech metal washing ball that could transform your laundry bin or basket into a washer. The Luna is a metal sphere which contains a small volume of water and you place it directly into your dirty clothes and linens.

How it works

The machine creates a cloud of electrostatically charged steam particles which come through small pores in the metal surface and infiltrate the clothing as the Luna rotates and moves around. The Luna then acts like a magnet and attracts the dirt particles in the steam into its core. The sphere then uses hot air to dry any remaining damp in the linens.

The competition

This rather brilliant sounding invention has been selected as a finalist in the highly regarded Electrolux Design Lab contest. The inventor says 'The idea is not to put the clothes into a washing machine, but rather, the washing machine between the dirty clothes' and believes that his creation will make an onerous chore much easier and that it will appeal to consumers with environmental concerns.

The Electrolux competition will have two winners, one voted for by the public and the official first prize which will be awarded by a judging panel which will choose the concept that they believe to be the best new design solution for the future. The prize is a mere 5000 Euros but the winner will also receive a paid internship at an Electrolux design centre. 1700 entries were submitted this year. The theme designated was Creating Healthy Homes and there were three specific focus areas, culinary enjoyment, fabric care and air purification.

Conclusions

I love the sound of this invention. No more trips down the stairs with piles of washing, no more emptying the washing machine only to load up the tumble dryer. My favourite denim could stay right where they are whilst the Luna does its work and then the pieces are ready to be worn again. This could be a real boon when you are in a rush or suddenly remember that you are out of socks! I can only dream about the savings on my electricity bill too. That tumble dryer of mine just eats energy and I always find it extraordinary just how much washing I manage to accumulate. There are only three people in my household but I feel like I am washing for an army! If that clever little ball works I will just have to have one! The next big question will be how much will it cost?

About the author: Sally Stacey is a keen writer who hates washing and now wnats a Luna!

Image license: Bin Im Garten, CC BY-SA 3.0