Tumble dryers account for more than 4 percent of the world’s energy consumption, so cutting that figure by 70 percent could be a big deal.


Forget heat, drying laundry in the future is all about cranking up the volume. At least, that’s how the folks at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) where researchers have built an ultrasonic clothes dryer that uses far less energy than conventional dryers see it.


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All of us know, especially the bill payers among you, that most clothes dryers are astonishingly energy hungry and that’s backed up by a 2014 report by the Natural Resources Defense Council that found a typical household dryer uses as much energy over the course of a year as your refrigerator, dishwasher, and clothes washer combined, ouch, and that dryers account for as much as 4 percent of all US domestic energy consumption, double ouch. And that didn’t escape the attention of ORNL’s Ayyoub Momen.


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The result, of years of research, is ORNL’s new clothes dryer whose drum is lined with piezoelectric ultrasound transducers that blast laundry with high frequency sound rather than heat.

The teams full sized prototype works by using ultrasound to vibrate small water droplets out of the clothes, forming a fine mist which is then driven to the edge of the drum where it can be siphoned off, in much the same way it would happen in a regular dryer, and during tests the teams new dryer dried clothes in 20 minutes rather than the usual 50 and using over 70 percent less energy that a regular dryer.


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The news, for bill payers anyway, gets even better though, this isn’t just idle research. The project was carried out in collaboration with GE who are now planning to incorporate the technology into their range of flat dryers and, at some point in the future, their regular drum dryers. So dim the lights, turn on the dryer and bask in the glory of saving money.

About author

Matthew Griffin

Matthew Griffin, described as “The Adviser behind the Advisers” and a “Young Kurzweil,” is the founder and CEO of the World Futures Forum and the 311 Institute, a global Futures and Deep Futures consultancy working between the dates of 2020 to 2070, and is an award winning futurist, and author of “Codex of the Future” series. Regularly featured in the global media, including AP, BBC, Bloomberg, CNBC, Discovery, RT, Viacom, and WIRED, Matthew’s ability to identify, track, and explain the impacts of hundreds of revolutionary emerging technologies on global culture, industry and society, is unparalleled. Recognised for the past six years as one of the world’s foremost futurists, innovation and strategy experts Matthew is an international speaker who helps governments, investors, multi-nationals and regulators around the world envision, build and lead an inclusive, sustainable future. A rare talent Matthew’s recent work includes mentoring Lunar XPrize teams, re-envisioning global education and training with the G20, and helping the world’s largest organisations envision and ideate the future of their products and services, industries, and countries. Matthew's clients include three Prime Ministers and several governments, including the G7, Accenture, Aon, Bain & Co, BCG, Credit Suisse, Dell EMC, Dentons, Deloitte, E&Y, GEMS, Huawei, JPMorgan Chase, KPMG, Lego, McKinsey, PWC, Qualcomm, SAP, Samsung, Sopra Steria, T-Mobile, and many more.

  • Collin Henley#1

    18th April 2019

    Any Idea when this technology will be available to the public?

    • Matthew Griffin#2

      24th April 2019

      Hi Colin, I believe GE are trying to commercialise it now, so potentially expect 2020 although that timeline may slip



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