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Concrete-free washing machines are lighter to transport, just as good in a spin

Concrete-free washing machines...
The plastic counterweight (right) could save around 45,000 tonnes of CO2 each year in the UK, while also reducing transport fuel consumption by nearly 184,000 liters
The plastic counterweight (right) could save around 45,000 tonnes of CO2 each year in the UK, while also reducing transport fuel consumption by nearly 184,000 liters
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Professor Amin Al-Habaibeh and undergraduate Dylan Knight from Nottingham Trent University are currently refining the device before pitching the idea to appliance manufacturers
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Professor Amin Al-Habaibeh and undergraduate Dylan Knight from Nottingham Trent University are currently refining the device before pitching the idea to appliance manufacturers
The plastic counterweight (right) could save around 45,000 tonnes of CO2 each year in the UK, while also reducing transport fuel consumption by nearly 184,000 liters
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The plastic counterweight (right) could save around 45,000 tonnes of CO2 each year in the UK, while also reducing transport fuel consumption by nearly 184,000 liters

As anyone who has ever tried to move one around will know, washing machines can be very heavy. Some of that weight is due to concrete blocks installed inside to help keep the machine stable during spin cycles. News out of Nottingham Trent University could be music to the ears of white goods transporters and home owners alike. Researchers have developed a plastic counterweight to replace the concrete blocks, which is hollow and light until delivery and then filled with water.

The average front loading washing machine on sale in the UK seems to weigh somewhere between 65 and 75 kg (140 - 165 lb), with about 25 kg of that being concrete blocks used to counter drum spin forces during a wash cycle. Professor Amin Al-Habaibeh and undergraduate Dylan Knight from Nottingham Trent University have developed a plastic replacement for the concrete that slashes the overall appliance weight by as much as 30 percent, making it potentially less costly to transport and easier to manhandle in the home.

Professor Amin Al-Habaibeh and undergraduate Dylan Knight from Nottingham Trent University are currently refining the device before pitching the idea to appliance manufacturers
Professor Amin Al-Habaibeh and undergraduate Dylan Knight from Nottingham Trent University are currently refining the device before pitching the idea to appliance manufacturers

"Concrete is actually quite bad for the environment due to the CO2 released when it's produced," said Knight. "The use of concrete is also the reason why washing machines are normally very heavy to move."

The team's plastic counterweight is hollow and empty during transport, where it weighs less than 3 kg (6.5 lb). When the washing machine is delivered to its new home, the tank is filled with water and sealed. "We found it worked as good as a concrete counterweight, stopping the spinning drum from heavily vibrating the machine," reported Knight.

Concrete has a greater density than water, so the new container has been made larger than the concrete blocks it replaces in an effort to close the density gap. The university told us that the team is currently working with its industrial partner to further improve the design ahead of pitching the project to appliance manufacturers.

The researchers reckon that 3.5 million washing machines are sold in the UK every year, and estimate that switching out concrete blocks for the NTU device could save around 45,000 tonnes of CO2 each year, while also reducing transport fuel consumption by nearly 184,000 liters.

Source: Nottingham Trent University

13 comments
Bob Flint
Or stick with a top loader, springs & no heavy concrete...
thk
There needs to be better engineering to dispense with the counterweight.
Gregg Eshelman
Top loaders also usually have concrete blocks attached to the bottom of the frame holding the tub and works. The best way to do it would be to have the filling of the counterweight done by the washer. At the start of each cycle, drain the counterweight into the tub as the first part of the cold water, then refill it before the spin cycle. Would also need a transport mode to just empty the counterweight and pump it down the drain.
exodous
Why can't the machine do this automatically, like have a sensor in the reservoir and if it is empty then the machine will do that on the first cycle. Do top loaders have this weight? They are freaking heavy also, I hate moving washing machines.
CAVUMark
@thk .. there is better engineering. It is called a ringer.
oldshorty
"Concrete is actually quite bad for the environment due to the CO2 released when it's produced" - but PLASTIC is good?
WilliamSager
Seems like such a obvious idea I'm a little surprised someone hasn't thought of it sooner. Though I do wonder if there is any problem if the water leaks out causing the machine to shake around a lot.
watersworm
Great idea, stay tuned...
windykites
How about using sand instead of water? That is nearer the weight of concrete.
Douglas Bennett Rogers
The concrete seems very strange. I have bought exercise equipment in a big city because the small town store couldn't afford the shipping cost of the iron weights.