If you've ever read about a new invention and thought, "why didn't I think of that?" be prepared to think that again. A 22-year-old student at Nottingham Trent University figured out a way to remove the heavy concrete counterweight washing machines use to limit vibration during spin cycles.
Your typical washing machine includes a block of concrete weighing around 25kg. It is required to ensure the machine doesn't vibrate and move around, potentially damaging itself and other objects in its vicinity when performing those 1,400rpm spin cycles. But using concrete adds a lot of weight to each machine and concrete also releases a lot of CO2 when it is produced.
Dylan Knight, who is studying BSc (Hons) Product Design at Nottingham Trent, worked with intelligent engineering systems professor Amin Al-Habaibeh to create a 3kg hollow plastic tank that sits in place of the concrete inside the machine. The tank remains empty until it reaches a customer's home, at which point it can be filled with water to add the required weight to counter spin cycle vibrations. A simple, yet very effective solution.
By replacing the concrete with this tank, the machine weight during transport is reduced by 30 percent. So as well as reducing CO2 by not using concrete in the machines, the vehicles transporting these washing machines also use less fuel, which again reduces CO2 emissions.
According to Statista, sales of automatic washers in the US are expected to top 10 million this year. Now imagine if each one of those weighed 25kg less and didn't include a large block of concrete. You can see how the savings would soon add up. For the UK, 3.5 million machines are sold each year. The university calculates that using Knight's plastic tank in each of those would save 44,625 tonnes of CO2 and require 183,750 liters less fuel for transportation.
The research was carried out "as part of a live brief" from product design company Tochi Tech Ltd. So there's every chance this tank can replace concrete in commercial washing machines relatively quickly.