Do your Sunday afternoons go to die at the laundromat? Washing clothes isn’t the bad part. It’s waiting for them to dry (and maybe the folding part). Not only do dryers eat up your free time, they’re also a huge energy drain. Well, pretty soon, you may be drying your clothes via vibrations, instead of heat.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory researcher Ayyoub Momen must hate doing laundry, too. Inspired by ultrasonic humidifiers, which use high-speed vibrations to turn water into steam, he developed a battery-operated system that dries soaking wet clothes in a fraction of the time a heat-pump dryer does, all while using a fraction of the energy.
The current prototype looks nothing like a conventional dryer. The silver dollar-sized transducer is basically a small circle of metal that plugs into a battery. All you would have to do is wet a piece of fabric, place it on top and let it steam for about 20 seconds. Neither the fabric nor the transducer gets hot, like with a regular dryer.
But besides being a huge time saver, just think of how drowning polar bears’ lives we’re saving in the world.
85% of households have a dryer, and they account for 6% of the energy use in the United States, according to the government’s Energy Star program. That’s a lot of energy (and clothes to fold).
It sounds too good to be true. The good news? General Electrics plans to bring one of these things to the market in a couple years. Oh, and we’re saving the planet, too. The bad news? Say goodbye to warm fluffy clothes.