GE, DOE roll out ultrasonic clothes dryer prototype to reduce energy consumption

Dive Brief:

  • The U.S. Department of Energy and General Electric have developed a prototype clothes dryer that can dry a load in about half the time a traditional dryer will take, using ultrasonic sound rather than heat.
  • Scientists estimate the new dryer, which essentially vibrates moisture out of clothing, is about five times more efficient than traditional appliances.
  • Clothes dryers use 1% of the nation’s overall energy demand, and DOE believes the new device can generate $900 million in consumer utility savings over 10 years.

Dive Insight:

Appliance efficiency is usually a pretty dry topic, if you will, and only marginally more exciting as the impacts are scaled up. But this story out of DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory is likely the exception: Scientists believe they can use the vibrations from ultrasonic sound to cut your time in the laundromat.

Or, as the DOE explains it: "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."

Clothes dryers are a significant piece of the country's energy load, using up to 4% of residential consumption. DOE produced a video of the prototype here, noting that in addition to significant energy savings and the potential to create more than 6,000 jobs, the new dryers generate significantly less lint.

While the ultrasonic clothes dryer is one of DOE's more unique pieces of research, standards and products developed by the agency have a significant impact on a wide range of products.

A report from the Appliance Standards Awareness Project and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy earlier this year estimated business utility bill savings from standards reached nearly $23 billion in 2015, while American households on average saved about $500 on electric bills.

Under President Obama, the federal government rolled out standards expected to reduce carbon emissions by at least 3 billion metric tons cumulatively by 2030. However the current Trump administration is taking steps to roll back any Obama-era energy and environmental regulation, including historically-bipartisan rules such as energy efficiency. 

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Filed Under: Distributed Energy Technology
Top image credit: DOE