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

All articles from Interdisciplinary Research >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: A miniature stretchable pump for the next generation of soft robots

Soft robots have a distinct advantage over their rigid forebears: they can adapt to complex environments, handle fragile objects and interact safely with humans. Made from silicone, rubber or other stretchable polymers, they are ideal for use in rehabilitation exoskeletons and robotic clothing. Soft bio-inspired robots could one day be deployed to explore remote or dangerous environments.

Most soft robots are actuated by rigid, noisy pumps that push fluids into the machines' moving parts. Because they are connected to these bulky pumps by tubes,...

Im Focus: Vehicle Emissions: New sensor technology to improve air quality in cities

Researchers at TU Graz are working together with European partners on new possibilities of measuring vehicle emissions.

Today, air pollution is one of the biggest challenges facing European cities. As part of the Horizon 2020 research project CARES (City Air Remote Emission...

Im Focus: Self healing robots that "feel pain"

Over the next three years, researchers from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, University of Cambridge, École Supérieure de Physique et de Chimie Industrielles de la ville de Paris (ESPCI-Paris) and Empa will be working together with the Dutch Polymer manufacturer SupraPolix on the next generation of robots: (soft) robots that ‘feel pain’ and heal themselves. The partners can count on 3 million Euro in support from the European Commission.

Soon robots will not only be found in factories and laboratories, but will be assisting us in our immediate environment. They will help us in the household, to...

Im Focus: Scientists create the world's thinnest gold

Scientists at the University of Leeds have created a new form of gold which is just two atoms thick - the thinnest unsupported gold ever created.

The researchers measured the thickness of the gold to be 0.47 nanometres - that is one million times thinner than a human finger nail. The material is regarded...

Im Focus: Study on attosecond timescale casts new light on electron dynamics in transition metals

An international team of scientists involving the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has unraveled the light-induced electron-localization dynamics in transition metals at the attosecond timescale. The team investigated for the first time the many-body electron dynamics in transition metals before thermalization sets in. Their work has now appeared in Nature Physics.

The researchers from ETH Zurich (Switzerland), the MPSD (Germany), the Center for Computational Sciences of University of Tsukuba (Japan) and the Center for...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

The power of thought – the key to success: CYBATHLON BCI Series 2019

16.08.2019 | Event News

4th Hybrid Materials and Structures 2020 28 - 29 April 2020, Karlsruhe, Germany

14.08.2019 | Event News

What will the digital city of the future look like? City Science Summit on 1st and 2nd October 2019 in Hamburg

12.08.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stanford builds a heat shield just 10 atoms thick to protect electronic devices

19.08.2019 | Information Technology

Researchers demonstrate three-dimensional quantum hall effect for the first time

19.08.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

Catalysts for climate protection

19.08.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>