If you are concerned about the quantity of carbon your washing machine contributes to the atmosphere, a solution may be nigh. Researchers have recently developed an appliance that makes washing machines lighter, thus cutting the reducing carbon emissions and reducing the discomfort associated with installation.
Naturally, washing machines contain two or more hefty concrete blocks weighing over 25kg to prevent them from careening out of the room during the spin cycle. Unfortunately, producing concrete blocks also leads to the emission of significant amounts of carbon. These heavy washing machines also require large vehicles to transport them, automatically increasing fuel costs.
The Nottingham Trent University Team
A 22-year-old student, Dylan Knight, developed a hollow plastic container that fills with water as soon as the spin cycle commences. This eliminates the need for concrete blocks and the now-heavy washing machine does not shake violently or shuffle across the floor in a creepy manner.
Knight, a product design student tested the lightweight appliance, which is 3kg when empty. He discovered that it was just as effective as concrete blocks when filled with water. “Water does not enter the hollow container until the device is installed,” says Knight. “We found out that it was just as good- if not better- than having a concrete counterweight placed inside. The device stops the spinning drum from violently shaking the machine,” he said.
Dylan says concrete is bad for the environment because its production emits C02 into the environment. About 4 – 5% of the total C02 in the world comes from cement production. The concrete blocks inside a washing machine are the reason they are extremely difficult to move.
With this new design, the weight of a washing machine is reduced by a third, which also reduces the cost of fuel spent on its transportation. In the UK, approximately 3.5 million washing are sold each year. According to the team’s calculations, if each machine were fitted with the device, it would prevent the emission of about 44,625 tonnes of C02 including the reduced amount of fuel consumed.
Tochi Tech is the design company that worked with researchers and students of the University to develop the idea and working prototype. The design is both innovative and sustainable, just the combination of features sought by modern manufacturers.
An expert in intelligent engineering systems, Professor Amin Al-Habaibeh and Knight worked together to design the appliance in partnership with Tochi Tech.
“The reduction of C02 and fuel costs are not the only benefits of this sustainable solution, it also provides safety and ergonomic benefits to people who physically handle washing machines,” says Professor Al-Habeibeh.
The development of this new design will help in providing solutions to real world problems as well as create jobs for people.
If we can reduce the weight of washing machines in a lorry by 99.9kg, we can save roughly 8 ½ g of C02 emitted and 0.36 litres of fuel for each 100km covered.
The Enabling Innovation Program at Nottingham Trent University backed the research while it was funded by European Regional Development Fund.