Last year, scientists at the US Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) revealed they were working on ultrasonic clothes drying technology in partnership with GE Appliances. At the time, they said they planned to implement the technology in a press dryer and a clothes dryer drum. A new video shows they've been true to their word, bringing the commercial availability of such appliances a step closer.

As reported last year, the new technology relies on high-frequency vibrations to shake the water from fabric by essentially atomizing the moisture so it is released as a fine mist. In this way, it dries fabric faster and using much less energy than simply using heat. The researchers estimate the ultrasonic approach can dry clothes twice as fast as conventional dryers, cutting drying times to about 20 minutes per load, while using 70 percent less energy. The process also results in almost no lint being produced.

The ultrasonic vibrations are produced by piezoelectric transducers that rapidly contract and expand in response to an electric current. These were previously demonstrated on their own on a desktop, but the researchers have now succeeded in scaling them up and integrating multiple transducers into a full-scale press dryer and clothes dryer drum.

This latest development, and the project's partnership with GE Appliances, bodes well for the technology being available to consumers in the not-too-distant future.

In the meantime, you can check out how your next clothes dryer might work in the video below.

View gallery - 3 images