Water comes second to oxygen for the survival of human beings on the planet Earth. Though, there is 70-80% water on earth but most of it is in the form of sea water and not worth for drinking, cleaning and agriculture. Humans depend for their survival only on natural resources of clean water and natural -water cycle of the atmosphere. It is said that only 3% is fresh water, and that 3% is mostly concentrated in the polar ice caps and glaciers is available as clean water on earth.
Just to highlight the role of water, it is to mention that our body is approximately 60 percent water, brain is 70 percent water, and lungs are nearly 90 percent water. Each day, our body must replace 2.4 liters or about 2.5 quarts of water -- through ingested liquid and foods. To maintain good health and proper body functions, the amount of water in the body should remain relatively constant. However, with the growing population having drastic water-intensive changing life styles of so called more civilized/urbanized people on the planet, availability of clean water is becoming a serious crisis all over the world. The basic need of clean water is for drinking and for controlled use for cleaning but with growing urbanization and modernization; people are wasting a major portion of this precious natural resource (water) for cleaning (bathing and washing). It should be noted that current (access and distribution) domestic wars over clean water are already occurring at the local and regional levels. Since water is vital to the survival of human beings, its scarcity has serious consequences for the planet. If the former international conflicts were aroused by the desire for more land or oil, the proximate cause of dispute is the freshwater. In this decade, the media campaign on environmental issues has impacted the popular belief about a coming World War III. The foundation to affirm this belief is the impossibility of life without the vital element water, unlike oil, water is essential for any living being. Therefore, the man will do anything to get that precious liquid.
The exhaustion of water resource is not a phenomenon that is generated from the overnight. Decades ago, human beings are engaged in activities that pollute, increasingly, their environment. The blame for the lack of water is pure and exclusively, human. The hyper land use, deforestation and overgrazing, are some of the causes that led to the reduction of potable water, and therefore distorted the water cycle (so that it rains a lot where not necessary and almost no rain in desert areas). In addition, industries and lack of awareness in the daily habits of man, cause the pollution of many drinking water previously. Water scarcity in the world is not new, claiming that only a fifth of the world population has access to drinking water, leaving thousands of millions of people in unsanitary conditions. While some people or countries still do not feel it’s (water) absence, other thousands of people die dehydrated due to unavailability of clean water to them. Many sources of fresh water disappeared, and a large percentage of which are contaminated.
When man fell into the reality of the situation and the consequences of their reckless actions towards nature, he also realized that he must find a way to stop this process or, soon, the world would perish due to lack of water and of other natural resources and many a times technology provides the possible solutions. Thus many scientists devoted themselves especially to the task of investigating possible ways to treat water. Thus, although not manage to generate new water sources, it could recycle those unused or contaminated by them. Through these studies, they found multiple ways to treat this water at the industrial level, but also to residential. Today, each family can purify water if desired. However, in the near future these methods will also become insufficient. While help the problem temporarily, they will not permanently. It is for this reason that many scientists are already looking for an effective and affordable way of treating salt water. If they move forward on this issue, could solve the shortage problem soon. However, it is true that the number of individuals in need of this water resource (from sea) will be extensive and then what will be its impact on hydrological cycle.
Waterless Washing Machine
Again, we come to the square one that we have to conserve the water resources, control its wastage (affordability should not become the need) and develop new technologies which at least work for human uses with less or no requirement of water. In this direction, a waterless washing machine concept (a revolution in laundry) is being developed by many companies with a hope that the technology will prove a boon to stop water wastage for cleaning of clothes. The washing machine’s system is based on Professor Stephen Burkinshaw’s research. Burkinshaw spent his time at the University of Leeds focusing on the structure of nylon polymer beads. He discovered that nylon is the best material for absorbing tiny particles. Along with his team of researchers, they came up with the concept of using them to remove stains off of clothes. Professor Stephen Burkinshaw and his team of researchers currently have a partnership with Xeros Ltd. and are planning to commercially produce the waterless washing machines. Currently, the technology is only available for hotels and large launderettes, but the company plans to create a household version in the near future. 'The bead-cleaning system is now being developed for domestic laundry use and research is underway to explore how it can be applied in other applications.
At first glance the washing machine appears to be typical laundry hardware. The front-loading door is reminiscent of a high-efficiency washing machine, and the controls are designed to be familiar to a first-time user. However, there is much more to this device than the reassuringly familiar exterior suggests. Behind the machine’s not-so-different façade lies a revolutionary new technology. This unique system gives the machine the ability to: wash laundry with special polymer beads. Remove the beads from the laundry once the clothes are clean, ready for hundreds more wash cycles as well as save water, energy, and detergent on every load. The proprietary Xeros polymer bead washing system includes several key Xeros-designed components that allow it to take full advantage of this bead-cleaning system:
Bead storage: the first step in utilizing the polymer beads in the Xeros machines was to create a special storage system that would house the beads between wash cycles. This wet sump housing is mounted low in the machine and kept apart from the wash drum housing. Separating the bead storage from the wash drum helps the machine stay balanced during high-speed washing cycles. This bead storage sump is specially designed to allow the beads to be carried up into the drum easily during a wash. The design of this storage sump also allows for the beads to be cleaned following heavy use, and makes hygiene control easy, which is a must for commercial laundries who need to complete large amounts of sterile laundry every day.
Moving the beads to the drum: while the sump itself is designed to make it easy to store and move the beads, they still have to travel upwards in order to get to the drum where the laundry is. Here is where the bead pump comes into play. This pump pushes the beads to the top of the machine using a small amount of water. From there, the beads and the water enter a special separator device that moves the beads into the drum and returns the water to the sump, where it will be used to transport more beads to the drum. This system helps to ensure that the Xeros machine is incredibly water-efficient.
Washing evolved: Once the Xeros polymer beads have made it into the drum, they are mixed with the laundry being washed. The nylon polymer beads have an inherent polarity that attracts stains in a similar way to how your white nylon garments can get dingy over. The molecular structure of the beads allows them to absorb stains, reducing the need for large quantities of detergents. However, under humid conditions, the polymer changes and becomes absorbent. Dirt is not just attracted to the surface, it is absorbed into the centre. After the water dissolves the stains, the dirt is absorbed into the centre of the beads, where it remains trapped. After the cycle is complete, the beads are spun out of the load through holes in the drum, where they then return back to s sump pump and are reused. By using fewer detergents, the Xeros machine can keep linen looking new for longer than a standard washing machine. As an added bonus, this also means that the Xeros machine produces less effluent, making it more environmentally friendly as well. It means less waste, cleaner laundry, and better fabric longevity.
Getting the beads out: once the beads have worked their magic, they are successfully removed from every laundry load, which is why Xeros has created a special bead extraction process to get those beads out. Throughout the entire wash cycle, used polymer beads are cycled out of the machine’s drum through specially designed openings in its walls. These beads are returned to the bead storage sump to be cleaned and cycled through the wash process all over again. This ensures that fresh beads are constantly being added to the wash so that they can remove more stains. To top off the bead removal process, Xeros’ washing machine uses a specially designed rinsing system to minimize the amount of water consumed during each wash cycle. This proprietary technology delivers superb laundry cleaning compared to more conventional rinse processes.
Highlights of waterless washing
- System uses plastic beads to clean clothes - and it's more effective than detergent
- In humidity, plastic becomes absorbent and traps dirt within beads' core
- After cycle is complete, the plastic beads are spun out and can be reused
- If all households converted to this technology, it would save thousands of million tonnes of water per week
- A new washing machine that uses virtually no water could give a whole new meaning to ‘dry cleaning’. The technology uses millions of tiny plastic beads that remove stains and odours from garments.
- The company claims that the process is not only more effective at cleaning clothes, but it’s also far more efficient.
- The machines are thought to require less than ten per cent of the water used in normal washing machines. They also use just a fraction of the electricity needed to complete a cycle with a traditional machine
- The beads also resist dye transfer between colours and whites, so less wash cycles need to be completed.