Author – Sudha Kamada
Over the years, India’s power shortage crisis has come nowhere close to be solved. With never-ending power cuts and increasing electricity bills, it’s no surprise that people would jump at the opportunity for anything that would help them save electricity and their bills, which is particularly true in rural areas where electricity is still a stone’s throw away. Several creative solutions like the solar LED bulbs and energy efficient buildings are being implemented to alleviate this problem. Among these ideas, Indian innovations like the pedal-powered and agitator washing machines are providing the much needed escape from the drudgery of washing clothes by hands.
Mechanical Washing Machine by Remya Jose
Remya Jose, a young student from Malappuram, Kerala, has created a pedal-powered washing machine. With the help of her father and a local mechanic, she molded a bicycle pedal system and a washing drum together to create a manual washing machine. The pedal-powered machine not only helps in washing clothes but also helps one in staying fit through pedaling. It substitutes electrical power with mechanical power.
A rust-proof iron mesh cylinder is placed inside an aluminum cabin, which is connected to a pedal system with a chain, pedals and a seat. Clothes, along with detergent are placed into the cylinder, and the aluminum cabin is filled with enough water to immerse the clothes. The washing cycle begins, which soaks the laundry for at least 10 minutes. The cylinder moves fast enough to scour off the dirt with constant beating against the mesh. Once the water is drained, through the pedaling action, the laundry is centrifuged to dry the clothes up to 80%. Remya’s low-cost idea worth just INR3,000, not only helps the society, but also conserves power consumption.
CPDM Pedal Powered Washing Machine
It is an invention by three scientists – Amaresh Chakrabarti, Manish Kumar, Pulin M Raje from the Centre for Product Design & Manufacturing (CPDM) in the Indian Institute of Science. Although this innovation was created in 2008, it is still a work in progress. This pedal-powered model is slightly different to Remya’s design, which incorporated a direct pedaling frame onto the washing drum. This design has a drum connected to a shaft and a sprocket. Another difference is that Remya’s model uses an iron mesh cylinder, whereas CPDM drum used in this design has an abrasive surface – producing an effective “rub and scrub” action that might make it easier to remove stains.
The CPDM washing machine requires a substantially lesser amount of water – just 50 liters as compared to 200 liters required by a conventional washing machine. Further, it gets the job done much quicker (clothes washed in 30-45 minutes, as compared to the 65min to 2 hours that hand-washing or conventional machines would normally take). A patent has been granted to the idea, but it still awaits partners for a startup, as part of the MHRD-funded programme called Design Innovation Centre that was approved by the Sam Pitroda committee of the National Innovation Council.
Portable Rotating Engine by Gaurav Raut
Here is another model of a portable washing machine created by Gaurav Raut. This is an agitator washing machine where the rotary action of the agitator provides an effect similar to the action of beating clothes for removing dirt and scrubbing collars clean. The machine essentially has a shaft, agitator, and support assembly, with the design of collapsible arm supports that can be adjusted to the bucket size. However, comparatively it seems to be less efficient, since it does not have a dryer option.
Portable Solar DC Washing Machine
This invention for a washing machine is interesting since it is a solar powered and portable one. Published in 2015, it is created by Amanpreet Kaur, Bikesh Kumar, Amit Kumar, Yashpal Choudary, and Mohit Solanki from Punjab and Rajasthan, whose initial idea was to reduce both energy and electrical consumption. It mainly consists of a solar PV panel, a battery, a closed circuit with a solar charge controller, a bucket and a DC motor. It follows the same basic principle as other washing machines, where clothes are washed by a rotary action.
While this idea was successful in achieving its goals to save power through solar energy, being of low cost, easy maintenance, light weight, and with least complexity (fewer components), most of the raw materials used do have negative environmental impacts. The authors state that it is important to mitigate these effects and search for alternatives, more eco-friendly materials while still retaining the functionality of the project. While it has its drawbacks, its concept has a wider scope in the future.