You don’t have to use heat to dry your clothes anymore with the ultrasonic dryer created at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The researchers at the lab built a dryer that uses much less energy than conventional heat dryers and drys the clothes in far less time using only sound waves.
Clothes dryers are one of the biggest consumers of the electricity at homes. According to a 2014 report by Natural Resources Defense Council, an average household’s dryer uses as much electricity over a year as the refrigerator, dishwasher, and the washing machine combined. The Energy Information Administration says that 4 percent of all domestic energy is consumed by dryers alone.
Ayyoub Momen at Oak Ridge has spent several years of his life trying to develop a way of extracting moisture from fabric. He envisioned a dryer with a drum that blasts the laundry with high-frequency waves to dry it off, rather than heat. Ultrasound waves vibrate the tiny water droplets in the fabric forming a very fine mist which is driven to the edge of the drum and removed with a siphon just like the conventional dryers.
Momen has built a functional prototype along with his team to demonstrate how well the idea works in practice. The full-size dryer cuts the 50-minute drying time of conventional dryers down to 20 minutes while using 70 percent less energy.
Unlike many other research ideas, this one is not meant to stay in the lab. The team carried out the project in collaboration with General Electric Appliances. The company is planning to introduce this approach both in press dryers and the conventional drum dryers.
It won’t just be music that you will be cranking up the volume for.