Ultrasonic Dryers Could Revolutionize Your Laundry

Clothes dryer
Andrey_Popov / Shutterstock.com

Imagine a heatless dryer that dries clothing twice as fast as today’s consumer dryers while being three to five times more energy-efficient.

Oh, and it causes less fading of clothing and creates less lint.

It’s not science fiction. It’s science — researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee are currently developing an ultrasonic dryer that can do just that.

Lead researcher Ayyoub Momen tells CNN Money that a full-size prototype is expected to be completed in August, paving the way for ultrasonic dryers to become available to consumers in about five years.

Momen will work with General Electric to design consumer versions of the ultrasonic dryer, which he estimates will cost around $500 to $1,000.

Whereas today’s dryers use heat to evaporate water, the ultrasonic dryer will use low-energy, high-frequency vibrations to displace water.

So instead of heating elements, the ultrasonic dryer will contain electric devices called piezoelectric transducers that emit sound so high-pitched a dog cannot hear it, CNN reports:

The sounds cause vibrations that shake the wet fabric so vigorously that all of the moisture can be extracted even in cold air. That water is turned into a mist and collected in a little tank for the user to drain later.

Momen came up with the concept, modeled after ultrasonic humidifiers, in response to a dryer-innovation challenge from the U.S. Department of Energy.

For now, he and his fellow researchers have been working on small-scale prototypes, testing them out on scraps of fabric. You can see the prototypes demonstrated in this recent video from Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

For other energy- and money-saving tips, check out “30 Ways to Shave the Cost of Laundry.”

Would you pay $500 to $1,000 for an ultrasonic dryer? Let us know why or why not — share your thoughts below or on Facebook.

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