With support from the Energy Department’s Building Technologies Office, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and GE Appliances are changing the way Americans do laundry with their ultrasonic drying technology that uses vibrations, not heat, to dry fabric.
DOE’s Building Technologies Office is seeking new clothes dryer technologies that can increase the energy factor (EF) from 3.7 to 5.43 lb/kWh without increasing drying time by more than 20% over baseline units. The goal of this project is to develop a clothes dryer prototype, using ultrasonic transducers, with an EF above 10 lb/kWh. Drying time is predicted to be ~20 minutes. This project aims to make the process of drying clothes very energy efficient. Parting from conventional heat-based drying methods, the technique used here relies on using piezoelectric transducers to generate high frequency mechanical vibration to mechanically extract moisture from the fabric as cold mist.
This project can potentially revolutionize the clothes dryer industry. Being able to remove impurities in the water contained in clothes might lead to softer and higher-quality dried clothes, which is good for marketability of the final product. Eliminating the need for a high flow rate, high temperature air will minimize issues with lint in the air processing system. At the end of the project, appliance manufacturers including GEA will be ready to invest in this technology and commercialize it. This will result in the U.S. becoming the leader in the clothes drying industry and generate new jobs and innovative applications of the technology. This technology also has the potential for 0.4 quads of energy savings.
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