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, award winning Futurist and Founder of the 311 Institute, a global futures think tank working between the dates of 2020 and 2070, is described as "The Adviser behind the Advisers." Regularly featured on AP, CNBC, Discovery and RT, his 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 five 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 future. A rare talent Matthew sits on the Technology and Innovation Committee (TIAC) for Centrica, Europe’s largest utility company, and his recent work includes mentoring XPrize teams, building the first generation of biocomputers and re-inventing global education, and helping the world’s largest manufacturers envision, design and build the next 20 years of devices, smartphones and intelligent machines. Matthew's clients are the who’s who of industry and include Accenture, Bain & Co, BCG, BOA, Blackrock, Bentley, Credit Suisse, Dell EMC, Dentons, Deloitte, Du Pont, E&Y, HPE, Huawei, JPMorgan Chase, KPMG, McKinsey, PWC, Qualcomm, SAP, Samsung, Sopra Steria, UBS, the USAF and many others.

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