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Microwave Clothes Dryer

Using microwave oven technology -water heating- to dry clothes
  (+1, -2)
(+1, -2)
  [vote for,

Use a clothes dryer that combines the existing clothes-drying technology and add the microwave technology to this.

Microwave ovens cook food by heating up the water present in the food. Clothes dryers use heated air that is run throught the drum to evaporate the water in your clothes. A combination of both, microwaves heating the water and a conventional tumbler to even the effect throught the clothes. And there you have it: a quick - and probably more energy efficient - clothes dryer.

-- because of the aversion microwave oven have with metal, i guess a combination of the technologies would be useful for clothes that have metal in them (i.e. jeans rivets and zippers) --

FreshSlice, Dec 28 2003

(?) how it works... http://www.gallawa....rotech/howcook.html
[po, Oct 04 2004]

(?) A thought experiment... http://www.testmagi...c.asp?TOPIC_ID=1917
And prior art. [waugsqueke, Oct 04 2004]

(?) Microwave Clothes Dryer http://www.pepco.co...h_launder.htm#micro
[phoenix, Oct 04 2004]

(?) Microwave Dryer Technology On the Horizon http://home.europa....topics/laundry.html
Scroll to the bottom. [phoenix, Oct 04 2004]

(?) US5606804: Microwave clothes dryer and method with hazard detection http://www.delphion...ils?pn=US05606804__
[phoenix, Oct 04 2004]

U.S. Patent Subclass 34 / 260 http://www.patentec...ss/defs/34/260.html
(A whole class of patents just for microwave dryers!) [phoenix, Oct 04 2004]

(??) you cannot beat wind technology http://www.jarrotts.com/washing.jpg
[po, Oct 04 2004]

Combo Washer and Freeze Dryer Combo_20Washer_20and_20Freeze-Dryer
Somewhere in there is mention of the even greater efficiency of combining freeze-dry tech with microwave tech [Vernon, Dec 28 2009]


       //Microwave ovens cook food by heating up the water present in the food.// I think this premise is wrong, sorry.
po, Dec 28 2003

       Microwave ovens cook food by "agitating molecules of water, fat, sugar, salt -as well as many others- within the food". Just trying to keep it simple /po/.
FreshSlice, Dec 28 2003

       Seems an interesting idea. The important thing when drying clothes (or anything) is to promote evaporation, not to heat the clothes and boil the water. Passing hot air through tumbling clothes in a conventional tumble dryer does this well.   

       I think the idea of microwaving the clothes would risk localised build-ups of temperature, which could have the potential to damage the clothes, but if the microwaves could be evenly distributed and the clothes were properly agitated this problem might not be insuperable. The other issue would be the screening required to stop the microwaves escaping.   

       However, any dryer that produces large amounts of exhaust hot air will not be very energy-efficient, no matter how it is heated.
kropotkin, Dec 28 2003

       phoe, those links are all a few years old. is this technology slow or stagnant? I can't see it working myself.
po, Dec 28 2003

       Clothes don't get dry because they're hot. They get dry because the AIR is hot and dry. Hot, dry air just sucks up moisture. As a side effect, it also warms up the clothes.   

       Heating the clothes by microwaving them would have a minimal effect on drying (it would increase the water's vapor pressure). But I'm not sure the average user would notice the time savings. And I don't think it would result in energy savings.
lyrl, Dec 28 2003

       see link. are we still submitting views from back window?
po, Dec 28 2003

       "is this technology slow or stagnant?"
I'd be willing to be it's less efficient than what we have now. (I believe) You can't microwave the clothes themselves because of all the metal - you have to heat air or some intermediate substance which heats the air.
phoenix, Dec 28 2003

       The reason I posted this idea is because it happens -too often- that after my clothes dryer's run is over (an hour or so) my clothes are still wet or damp. Instead of having to fork another dollar in quarters (that I am either not willing to spend, or because I just ran out of quarters) i finish my clothes off in the microwave oven, suffling them every half minute or so, and it does a pretty good job at it.   

       The drawbacks of using an oven instead of a clothes dryer are the fact that you need to toss them around once in a while and also that humidity lingers as there is not vent to allow water vapor - steam - to exit the microwave. Both these issues can be used in a dryer with a tumbler to replace the manual tossing, and a air and steam outtake to allow fresh air (steam-free) to come in and out, taking the steam away as it flows through the tumbler.
FreshSlice, Dec 28 2003

       We don't live in the 1800s anymore people. There are many sorts of plastics available for public consumption. The clothes tumbler is plastic, the microwave generator is aimed at the clothes (perhaps on a low setting), and we keep the air blower as well, but we don't really have to heat the air anymore...   

       You know, the only problem is you can't nuke your pants. (Zippers, buttons, clasps) Or your shoes, for those people who've ever thrown shoes in the dryer. But for people who wear sweats and sandals exclusively, this might not be a problem.
Ayelis, Dec 25 2009

       on a side note i've used my microwave to dry socks, it works but you have to set the power low to not burn them.   

       If the object is to get the water off then why not make a vacuum chamber that makes the water go to vapor almost instantly? you could have a larger chamber at near vacuum 2x the size of the tumbler, then you put the clothes in and press the button and instant 67% drop in pressure. that way on the downtime you can have a pump evacuating the chamber so its almost instant drying.
Arcanus, Dec 28 2009

       //vapor// sp. "ice"
FlyingToaster, Dec 28 2009

       I already did this in 1984. The problem is that Microwaves and regular dryers are inefficient at pulling off water, so you get localized baking of the clothes. The way to avoid this, is to add a vacuum pump. I took a regular microwave oven, and had a hole cut in the glass door. Then I had a vacuum pump from John Rash's lab of Colorado State and attached it to a vacuum flask that was inside the microwave. I was able to dry socks in a minute. Likewise, parts of a woolen sweater soaking in water took under 2 minutes (with no shrinkage). Denim in soaking water was done in under 3 minutes. The concept works great. I think that you would need a sensor to check for moisture.
windbourne, Feb 01 2010


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