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Washing Machine Uses Air to Clean Clothes (March 13, 2006)

The innovative Aqua washing machine (Jiji)
Sanyo Electric Co. has developed a household washing machine like no other: It can use air to wash clothes. The electric appliance maker will begin selling the washer, called Aqua, on March 11, 2006. It is the first drum-type household washing machine to use air, specifically ozone, to keep clothes clean.

Clean Technology
Aqua was developed in line with the goals of reducing the amount of water needed during washing and recycling the water that is used. Its technological innovations set it far apart from conventional electric washing machines.

Retailing for ¥250,000 ($2,155 at ¥110 to the dollar), the machine has a washing capacity of nine kilograms and a drying capacity of six kilograms. Its most notable features are its ability to use the power of oxidization to kill bacteria and eliminate odors and its "air wash" function, which uses ozone, a chemical shown to be effective in breaking down dirt.

With "air wash," air containing ozone is sprayed on items inside the machine's drum. After about 30 minutes, any odors or bacteria on the items have been broken down. No water is used in the process. Using air to wash things may seem like a strange idea. But Aqua's technology can easily handle items that are difficult to clean with water at home or items with noticeable odors, such as from cigarette smoke, sweat, and pets, but which would not usually be sent for dry cleaning.

Delicate items, such as business suits, school uniforms, slippers, and stuffed toys, can be cleaned in an Aqua, since washing takes place while the drum is stationary. Putting such items in a quickly revolving drum could destroy their shape.

The Aqua has arrived at a time when consumers are more concerned than ever about hygiene, as can be seen in the plethora of sprays and other products that remove odors on clothes. What is more, Aqua's cleaning and drying cycles are said to have no impact on the environment. That is because ozone is made purely with oxygen and electricity, and it is converted into pure oxygen at the end of the cycles.

Water Saver
The machine boasts another world first: the Aqualoop, a system that recycles water. Water used in the final rinse cycle is stored in a tank inside the machine. Ozone is then injected into the water, cleaning it and killing any bacteria, so that the water can be used the next time a load of washing is done. 

The water can also be used in the dehumidifying process during the dry cycle. Whereas conventional machines draw large amounts of tap water during dehumidifying, the Aqua draws none. The result of these groundbreaking innovations is a reduction in water use of up to half compared with conventional washers. An average laundry load in an Aqua requires about 50 liters of water from the wash through to the dry cycles.

The machine has a variety of other unique cycles, including the non-detergent course, which can remove light dirt without the use of detergents, and the mold-guard course, which uses the anti-bacterial powers of ozone to protect clothes against black mold. There is also the Ozone steam course, employing steam containing ozone to do a thorough job of removing dirt.

The Aqua was developed as part of Sanyo's "Think Gaia" environmentally friendly business plan. Under the plan, announced in 2005, Sanyo aims to become "a company that pleases life and the Earth." Sanyo Executive Director and Chairman Nonaka Tomoyosays: "This is a new product that reflects a desire to treat the limited natural resource of water with care."

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Copyright (c) 2006 Web Japan. Edited by Japan Echo Inc. based on domestic Japanese news sources. Articles presented here are offered for reference purposes and do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Japanese Government.

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