Washing machine manufacturers have been making great efforts to save energy, and are still inventing new ways of using less water and less heat. “We’re very much part of an industry trend to reduce water and energy consumption,” says Gianpiero Santacatterina, who works for the Italian company Whirlpool R&D, a subsidiary of Whirlpool Group, “but we think we have something new.”
Santacatterina is coordinator of the EU-backed project Spray, a partnership between four companies. As its name implies, their system uses a spray to wet the soiled clothes, increasing impregnation and reducing the amount of water needed by 25-30 percent. With the initial intake of water greatly reduced, the machine needs less energy to heat it. “The consequence of using less water in the washing cycle,” Santacatterina says, “is that you also use 10-25 percent less energy.”
The pump that circulates the water at the bottom of the drum and sprays it into the centre of the laundry uses a novel hydraulic system and intelligent cycle control algorithms that reduce the amount of water and energy needed for the wash. Thanks to another innovative algorithm, the amount of detergent these machines require is adapted to the weight of each load. According to the developers, this system could allow savings of about 400 million cubic metres of water every year across the EU.
SPRAY technology is now available on the market. The project has been awarded with a National Energy Globe Italy 2015 prize.
The project has been funded through the CIP Eco-Innovation programme which ran until 2013. New funding opportunities are available under Horizon 2020's SME Instrument and the LIFE programme.