By YSN Staff
This prototype ultrasound dryer uses 80 percent less energy than conventional clothes dryers.
GE Appliances (GEA) has formally announced its marketing tie-in with the next installment of the Star Wars film franchise, “The Rise of Skywalker.” But through an ongoing research project with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee, the appliance manufacturer is doing science fiction one better.
In an effort to increase the energy efficiency of home appliances, GEA and ORNL, with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), are developing an entirely new paradigm for clothes dryers, Insider Louisville reports.
Current heat-based drying technology is a century old and costs U.S. consumers some $9 billion a year in utility bills, the DOE said. Accepting the challenge of building a better mousetrap, or in this case a more efficient dryer, researchers took their inspiration from wet dogs – specifically, the way canines shake themselves dry using relatively little energy.
The Oak Ridge/GEA team mimicked their shaking action in the laboratory using piezoelectric transducers, which vibrate when exposed to an electric current. In an initial test, a fingernail-sized section of saturated cloth was fully dry in 14 seconds after ultrasonic waves vaporized the moisture into a cold mist.
A bench-top model followed, about the size and shape of a small ironing board, which consumed 80 percent less energy than traditional dryers, researchers said.
Peter Pepe, GEA’s VP of Clothes Care, told Insider Louisville that a commercial version of the ultrasound dryer is still about a decade away. But when that time comes, added Technical Director Rick De Vos, the cool-to-the-touch technology will not only save consumers money in energy costs but in longer-lasting clothes that are no longer subject to heat damage.