A water-recycling washing machine is exactly what we need today, not tomorrow

26 Nov 2015

To help combat one of the biggest wasters of water in the home, a research team has developed a water-recycling washing machine that could cut the amount of water wasted by an incredible 95pc.

The research team-cum-start-up that has developed this new water-recycling washing machine is called AquaFresco and it hails from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; it won $30,000 earlier this year for what was originally an advanced water filter and is now a standalone machine.

And now, according to The Atlantic, the trio of Sasha Huang, Alina Rwei, and Chris Lai are in the process of expanding the AquaFresco to households, all in the name of stopping the extreme levels of water waste caused by typical machines.

Even today, current washing machines require about 75 litres of water to remove approximately one tablespoon of dirt, which goes to show how alarmingly inefficient decades-old washing machines are.

So how does the AquaFresco work? Well, according to the team, the washing machine filter technology would allow for this small amount of dirt to filter out of the system, while retaining the clean water and detergent for future washes.

Even NASA wants it

Rather than using a mesh to filter out the dirt like in a traditional system, the AquaFresco uses an absorption-filtration system to send the water into a closed recycling loop.

In doing so, the team believes the amount of water currently used in one wash could last for up to six months of continual cycles, which, quite frankly, would be a staggering improvement on the current model.

With the prize money it won earlier this year, the team has already made a prototype washer with an eye on the hotel market, which is always crying out for ways to save energy and water due to the demand for continuous linen washing.

The trio behind the device has even said it has already been in discussion with NASA about using the technology aboard the International Space Station (ISS) and other space ventures to reduce waste.

“[Washing machines] are one of the major sources of detergent pollution in rivers,” said Huang to The Atlantic. “Current laundry technology is not sustainable. A regular washer discards the water right into the drain after one usage, but less than 1pc is the actual waste component.”

Washing machine drum image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic