A combination of domestic and global factors have recently driven up the cost of fuel and power; water for commercial use has always been difficult to procure. This, combined with an accelerated movement towards sustainable practices has compelled the laundry industry to look for solutions and techniques that not only help them save on utilities but also on costs.
Prateek Gupta, Director, Airex, and Puneet Singh Bhatia, MD, Wonder Clean weigh in on the science of conserving water and electricity, choosing the right tools to make this possible and how to tweak laundry processes to save at every step.
What design features should the ideal washer have to maximise water savings?
Gupta: Upgrading the front load washer can maximize water saving.
Bhatia: Higher water consumption leads to more use of chemicals and energy and that leads to losses. The gap maintained between the inner basket and the outer drum plays an important role in determining water consumption. More the gap, the higher the water consumption. We maintain a 50% lower gap between the outer drum and the inner drum of washer extractors as compared to most Indian manufacturers, thus reducing the water consumption by 33%.
What role can sensors play in reducing water consumption?
Bhatia: Sensors play an important role in reducing water consumption but this is subject to cost, viability and maintenance.
Gupta: The sensor is an automatic feature that selects water levels for your laundry load. It uses a pressure switch to sense the water levels in the washer drum.
What design features should the ideal dryer have to maximise energy savings?
Gupta: The dryer should have good insulation so that heat loss is prevented, therefore making it more energy efficient.
Bhatia: The coordination between the air suction and the heat exchanger plays the most important role in energy consumption of dryers. The CFM of the suction blower should be perfectly matched with the heat generation capacity of the heat exchanger. Insulation of the dryers also plays an important role. The heat energy should be preserved within the body of the dryer and should not get wasted.
Last but not the least, moisture control in the PLC of the dryer is very important. The PLC should detect the exact quantity of water left in the fabric and control the heating and drying time. In my view, by maintaining these features, we can reduce energy consumption by 25-35%.
How does the speed of the dryer affect energy consumption?
Gupta: A higher heat setting on your dryer uses more energy. Go with a lower heat setting (and a longer drying time) to use less energy.
Bhatia: Suction blower speed has a relationship with the energy consumption; drum speed has no relation with energy consumption. We need to set the speed of the dryer in such a way that the maximum tumbling of fabric can be achieved inside the drum.
What is the connection between water usage and energy usage?
Bhatia: It’s a simple enough relationship; fabric is dipped in water and we need a required temperature (approximately 45-65°C) to wash the fabric properly. The water temperature depends on the specifications of detergent manufacturers and the amount of dirt or stains in the fabric. Moreover, if a washer is using more water to maintain the dip levels, more energy is required to raise the temperature.
Other than recycling water through an ETP, can water be reused in the laundry process in any way?
Gupta: Green technology/Computer-controlled rinse water reclamation system has become popular for use in water-based laundry operations through the greywater recycling tank. This technology stores the rinse water from your commercial laundry machine’s rinse cycle for use as the wash water in the next load. The beauty of this system is that it dramatically reduces the amount of water used for commercial laundry operations. This in turn saves expenses on water utilities.
Bhatia: I am not in favor of recycling water in the commercial laundry industry due to cost effectiveness, space usage and chemical contents in the effluent.
What types of laundry chemicals would you recommend to a client to reduce water usage?
Gupta: Concentrated forms of chemicals/detergent can help to reduce water usage without compromising fabric quality.
Bhatia: Any chemical that gives results at lower water temperatures, is eco-friendly and consumes a lesser number of rinses is recommended by us. It varies from industry to industry and type or location of the laundry setup.
How should laundry programs be adjusted to save water and energy?
Gupta: Use cold or warm water instead of hot water to wash the clothes, collect greywater and rainwater, wash full loads, air dry when you can, switch loads while the dryer is warm, use dryer balls, clean the lint filter on the dryer; these are some of the many ways to save water and energy.