One question that we hear all the time from commercial laundry owners is: “How do you get the beads out of the laundry?”
In a traditional, aqueous wash process, the removal of water from fabrics is handled by a separate machine, but how does one get millions of tiny polymer beads out of the wash? Will you have to remove thousands of tiny little beads from each load manually?
These are the kinds of questions Xeros’ research and development team considered when designing the Xeros machine, the beads, and the water-saving Xeros laundry process.
So, how do the beads get out of the laundry at the end of the Xeros wash cycle? The answer is a combination of elements, from the engineering of the beads to the design of the Xeros laundry machine itself.
Balancing Bead Separation with Cleaning Performance
During the design phase of the Xeros system, the R&D team had to carefully consider numerous factors in the design of the beads. Practical tests showed that larger beads could separate from the wash more easily, but smaller beads provided superior cleaning performance. Big beads had the weight to separate, but small beads could fit into smaller crevices and folds in fabrics to get at stains and dirt more easily.
Eventually, Xeros scientists were able to establish an optimum size for the beads that best balanced the cleaning performance of the beads with the ease of extraction from the wash.
To further improve the ease with which the beads are removed from the wash drum, the beads were made to be spheroidal in shape rather than using a cylindrical design. The smooth edges of a round bead shape offered two major benefits:
Superior Fabric Care. The lack of hard edges would translate into fewer creases in fabrics washed in the Xeros machine, improving garment and linen life.
Easier Bead Separation. A round shape would more easily fall through the holes in the wash drum since they wouldn’t have to orient to a “narrow” end to fit.
Each Xeros polymer bead is optimized to separate from fabrics easily while providing the best cleaning performance possible.
However, it takes more than good bead design to get the vast majority of beads out of the laundry, it also takes a smartly-designed, well-optimized machine to make sure that the beads can be extracted.
Designing a Machine to go with the Beads
Not just any old washing machine ca use the polymer beads of the Xeros system to their full effect. It takes a specially-designed piece of hardware to introduce the beads into the wash cycle and then remove them once the fabrics are done being cleaned. This is where the Xeros machine comes into play. While the exterior of the Xeros machine resembles a standard commercial laundry washer-extractor, the interior is a whole different story.
Each Xeros machine has a special bead storage system that holds all of the beads that are not currently in use. During the wash cycle, beads are drawn from the wet sump and pumped up into the wash drum. Once in the drum, the beads provide a gentle tumble action as the rub against the items in the wash. Throughout the wash cycle, used beads are let out of the drum through specially-designed openings in the walls of the wash drum as new beads are introduced to the wash. The used beads return to the bead storage sump, and are rinsed in preparation for future use. The final phase of the wash cycle is the extraction cycle, wherein the Xeros machine stops introducing new beads into the wash drum and tumbles the laundry load to work out any beads that might remain in the wash.
All told, over a million polymer beads will be used during a wash cycle, and there are typically fewer than a dozen beads ever left in the wash at the end. Even when a beaker full of beads was poured directly into a shirt pocket before a load is started, the Xeros system managed to work out all of the beads by the end of the wash cycle.
In short, you don’t have to worry about having to manually add or remove beads during the wash cycle, because the Xeros R&D team already thought of it!
by: Xeros June 23, 2015
© 2015 Xeros