Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Washing Clothes

23.04.2002


The flow of soap solutions through fibres is of great importance for the final result of the washing process. This is one of the conclusions from the research project of Annemoon Timmerman. She will defend her thesis on Monday 22 April at TU Delft. With this conclusion she supports a theory that was disbelieved for years by experts in the field. Timmerman: “I have now experimentally proven why the laundry is actually clean after less than half an hour of washing. Up to now, that was a mystery.” The research was funded by TNO-Cleaning Technologies.



In the washing of clothes, four factors are important: chemistry (the soap), mechanical action (the stretching of the fibre by the washing machine), temperature and time. Timmerman: “Using these four factors, improvements have been made in the washing process in recent times. But despite the centuries of practical knowledge on the subject, it has actually always remained a mystery why it is that laundry is actually clean in a relatively short time.”

So how does the washing process work? Periodic mechanical forces are exerted on the fibres. This causes tiny flows in and out of the pores in the fibres. Timmerman: “For a long time it was thought that these flows of soap solution had nothing to do with the cleaning of the laundry. It was thought that diffusion allowed the soap to reach the dirt.” Diffusion is the process in which soap is drawn through the outer layer of the fibre, reaching the dirt. With the help of literature studies and experiments, the Delft researcher determined that there were definitely flows through the pores of fibres as well as diffusion. Timmerman: “There is a convection flow through the fibre with moving layers of soap molecules along the pore walls that loosen the dirt particles from within the fibre.” The clothing is cleaned from the inside out. This was never believed in the industry. “Convection along the pore wall? Impossible.” Timmerman’s findings also explain why the actual washing process only takes about ten minutes. “If it were to take place through only diffusion, it would take hours,” says Timmerman. “And we are all witnesses to the fact that that is not the case.”


Timmerman’s research has also shown that the four most important factors, especially chemistry and mechanical action are strongly linked. These two factors, together with the temperature, determine how effective the washing process is. Timmerman: “We are a little closer to solving the secrets of washing.”

Maarten van der Sanden | alphagalileo

More articles from Interdisciplinary Research:

nachricht Bergamotene - alluring and lethal for Manduca sexta
21.04.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für chemische Ökologie

nachricht How to color a lizard: From biology to mathematics
13.04.2017 | Université de Genève

All articles from Interdisciplinary Research >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Scientist invents way to trigger artificial photosynthesis to clean air

26.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ammonium nitrogen input increases the synthesis of anticarcinogenic compounds in broccoli

26.04.2017 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

SwRI-led team discovers lull in Mars' giant impact history

26.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>