Ocean - washing system
Sizing and accessibility
What it does
35% of the microplastics in the oceans were found to be derived from the washing of synthetic clothes. For this reason, the purpose is to create washing system that allows users to eliminate the microplastics that are released by the washing of clothes.
As of today, many newspapers have highlighted this issue, and many professionals have dealt with it. Reading all this news, I considered it crucial to put an end to this problem once and for all, by creating a washing system that could filter out microplastics and that would be easily operated by users. For this reason, the ergonomics of the system is very important. It allows the users to change the filters on their own. In addition, it facilitates all those people who usually need physical support to carry out daily activities or who may have problems with their back or their joints. As the drawing shows, the washing system is 1560 mm tall.
How it works
1.The user opens the adjustable table in order to place the basket with the clothing; 2. Clothing is placed inside the drum and the washing machine is started (through the display on the panel); 3. The water (present in the container) is directed inside the basket by means of a centrifugal pump; 4. After the washing, the water undergoes a purification process: it passes initially through a stainless steel grid with 2mm holes ; it then passes through a polyester filter sponge; finally, it passes into a pipe connected to a centrifugal pump, which propels the water against a hollow fiber membrane through a tangential filtration. In this way the microplastics will be completely eliminated; 5. Finally, the water is pumped back into the container, where it is purified by means of an ozonator, to then be returned to circulation. 6. Within the washing system, which is connected to the container, there is also a drain pipe, by means of which the water can be replaced.
Initially, the main objective was to create a filtering system that would allow to completely eliminate microplastics. Going forward I thought it was important to create a device through which the user, once warned by the light on the display that the filter has almost reached saturation, can simply purchase a new one. The moment the new filters arrive, the saturated ones will be brought back to the shipping company. The company will separate the filter from the retained microplastics and, through a recycling system, will be able to give new life to the worn materials and the microplastics collected. To make this happen, the filtration system must be user-friendly. In fact, the first two filters can be extracted through a sliding system, while the last one (the hollow fiber membrane) is extracted through a different process. Two springs are placed on the membrane: when the user presses the external button, these two will compact and allow the easy exit of the membrane. As the designing process went on, I realized that Ocean couldn’t be the size of a common washing machine, but it had to reach a higher height. This allowed me to create a product that could be easily used by people who need physical support to move and those people who may have problems with their joints and back.
How it is different
Ocean is different from all other washing systems, not only because it filters out microplastics (its main purpose) and reuses the same water, but also because it is extremely user-friendly. Another aspect is the possibility to create an effective service that can give new life not only to the filters, but also to the microplastics themselves. The possibility to raise the drum, to insert a table that is adjustable by the user and is equipped with a display that can be easily operated by anyone and the ability for the user to change filters independently all contribute to solve a problem that is not usually considered, namely the ergonomics of the washing system.
In the next few months I will have access to a laboratory that will allow me to verify both the specific size of the hollow fibre membrane and after what it actually has to be changed (since it has reached the end of life). That is the first goal for the future. I also hope to have the opportunity to deepen my studies on this system to get closer and closer to what will be a real and saleable product.