SWATAB’s filter solution makes the water ultra pure before it is pumped into the laundry machine. Thanks to the water’s properties, the laundry becomes clean without detergent and at lower temperatures. A ten percent market share would save 21 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually.

Scandinavian Water Technology AB (SWATAB) recently received the Climate Solver 2017 award from WWF. The company has developed a filter system that makes it possible to wash without detergents and at lower temperatures, thanks to the special properties of the ultra pure filtered water. If the innovation penetrates 10 percent of the target market by 2027, the global greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced with 21 million tons of CO2e annually, according to WWF calculations.

Clean laundry, reduced environmental impact

Per Hansson’s interest in chemistry resulted in a patented filter system for environmentally friendly laundry. The innovation reduces climate impact and saves money. Photo: SWATAB.

”We are very proud of the Climate Solver award. It will open doors for us in our contacts with potential customers in the public and private sectors. In Sweden and the UK, the technology is already being used in hotels, nursing homes and laundry rooms in real estate properties. We see a large market potential. Our ambition is to contribute to a cleaner world and environmentally friendly laundry”, says Per Hansson, Head of Development at SWATAB.

”Our patented filter solution reduces the amount of chemicals and lowers energy consumption. The DIRO-TM21 filter makes it possible to wash without detergent and softener and still get clean and soft laundry. The unit is placed between the incoming water source and the washing machine and creates ultra-clean water, void of particles that would otherwise adhere to fabrics. The process is not temperature dependant, and the filter can be used with the standard washing programmes and temperature settings, from 30 to 90 °C. Washing can be carried out at 30˚ or less. Since the system reduces the amount of moisture that binds to the fabric, drying goes much faster, reducing the energy consumption of dryers. We estimate that the system can be used for up to 15 years before the unit needs to be replaced”, Per says.

Inspired by environmentally friendly facade cleaning

”A few years ago, we purchased an environmentally friendly facade cleaning system for our painting company. I discovered how efficient it was at removing dirt and algae, and I started to ask myself whether a similar technology could be used in washing machines. That was the birth of the laundry concept. Chemistry is fun, and I delved deeper into the problem. One thing led to another, and a couple of years later the innovation was granted a patent in Europe”, Per Hansson says.

The Diro® filter system transforms tap water into a special ultra pure water that washes clean  without detergents. Illustration: SWATAB.

”Water is the world’s oldest solvent, and on many kinds of impurities, it works excellently. Our filter removes particles of different size from the tapwater, making it ultra pure. In the final stage of the filtering process, the water is deionized. The water is pumped into the washing machine without particles, and when it comes into contact with the fabrics, it breaks the ionic bond between the fabric fibers and the dirt particles. The chemicals that usually do the job are not needed, and it works at low temperatures as well. Since the filtered water contains no lime or other minerals, the fabrics are left soft without the need for fabric softener. We have tested the system at the Swedish research institute SWEREA IVF. The results show that the cleaning effect reaches the EU Ecolabel specifications. The testing procedure is equivalent to the one used to test detergents”.

”The clothes dry faster, which is positive. According to test results, the filter can reduce drying time by a third. When dryers with moisture sensors are used, this is an important advantage, energy-wise. The filter system also reduces the risk of clogged drains, where detergent often is the culprit. Less allergic reactions to detergent residue is another advantage”, Per says.

Malmö Cleantech City Award

”Climate Solver is a very nice award. We are also happy that the Malmö Cleantech City Award 2016 recognised the company”, says Katarina Klöfverskjöld, CEO at SWATAB.

”We have conducted a number of interesting projects in Sweden, Denmark and the UK, and more systems are being installed – for example in nursing homes, real estate properties, and preschools. In a five-year-perspective, I think manufacturing will remain in Sweden, but with more resellers around Europe, and probably licensing as well. A consumer version of the filter is under development”, Katarina says.

The article was published in June 2017.