Space-age dryer uses ultra-sonic vibrations to dry clothes

Matthew Grocoff

August 20, 2015

By: Matthew Grocoff, Green Renovation Expert

In: AppliancesGreen Living

ultra sonic drying powers
Photo courtesy credit to ORNL

According to Oak Ridge National Labs (ORNL), tomorrow's clothes dryers could use high-frequency mechanical vibrations instead of heat to dry your clothes - reducing dry times and saving crazy amounts of energy.

Since the advent of the washing machine, we've struggled to find a good way to dry our clothes. First, there was the clothes line. Then there was the electric and then the gas dryer. Then there were the fires caused by the lint traps in the dryers. Then there were slightly better, safer dryers with moisture sensors. But, dryers still use a ton of energy creating a lot of heat that can ruin your clothes.

Next up is the heat-pump clothes dryer. This is a truly revolutionary clothes dryer that uses up to 60% less energy than a conventional dryer (check out the latest from Whirpool). But, before these become popular in the United States (they are already popular in Europe and Asia), we may see ultrasonic technology take a flying leap over the heat pump.

GE and ORNL have partnered to experiment with ultra-sonic vibrations for drying clothes. A conventional clothes dryer uses high heat to evaporate moisture from fabric. Ultra-sonic dryers vibrate the water from the fabric using little heat and far less energy. "This project can potentially revolutionize the clothes dryer industry and provide 117 billion kilowatt-hours in energy savings," said Ayyoub Momen of the lab's Building Technologies Research and Integration Center. That is a savings of over $15 billion dollars to U.S. consumers. Now that is some serious loose change in the dryer.

If this technology is successful, it will be the first disruptive technology for laundry since the invention of the washing machine. It could cut drying times in half and leave clothes softer and higher quality. According to Oak Ridge Labs, "the technique used here relies on using piezoelectric transducers to generate high frequency mechanical vibration to mechanically extract moisture from the fabric as cold mist." In plain English: good vibrations equals dry clothes.

Check out this video demonstration from ORNL of how this technology works in the lab: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THbh-8KJktk&feature=youtu.be

Learn more about advanced clothes dryers that are available now: http://www.oldhouseweb.com/blog/advanced-clothes-dryers-use-less-energy/

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