By Herbert Hsu | 2013
Design for sustainability
The challenge of this project is to use LCA (Life-cycle Assessment) to investigate a product and find insight that design can be built upon. The topic of the project is Water, meaning to investigate the consumption of water usage of our daily life and what product can be redesigned to address this problem. This problem is also typically suitable in the context of Pasadena since the people in this area are facing drought every summer.
Who takes care of the laundry now?
After a series of investigation, washing machine appears to be a good subjects to be designed. It is one of the most common appliance in every household and people sometime ignore the importance of it. Since the time washer was first introduced in the history, its evolution released the workforce of housewife by the time and greatly improve the life quality of modern civilization. However, unfortunately, People ignore some facts about washers:
- Washing machine is responsible for an average 21.7 percent of total household water usage.
- The average washing machine uses 9.5 litres of water for every kilogram of cotton clothes it washes (6.2 litres~11.8 litres).
It’s hard to imagine to live without washers now, and if some of its problems can be addressed, we can be more responsible to our lifestyles and to the environment.
LCA of Haier HLP21N
A deeper dive into washing machine began. Different brands and types of washers including top-loading, front-loading, and portable are being analyzed. Haier HLP21N, a light weight portable type, became the model of my LCA. Compared with other modern models of washers, it represent the baseline of its kind, wash and wring. Simplicity is good for my LCA study. A total break-down of the product is found on the internet, and I tell apart all the individual parts based on their raw materials. The Life-cycle of the individual parts are being drawn, including all the input and emission of energy, material, and waste that occurs in the production of the parts.
" washer is responsible for 21.7 percent of household water usage"
LCA: Process tree and Impact assessment
collectively the process tree of Haier model can be presented from the assembly of all the parts down to the usage phase and to the final disposal. Further more, an impact assessment of individual phase and material are presented to show how serious they are to some of the environment issues listed on top of the chart.
To wash or not to wash, that is the question
The findings from the LCA point out that the usage phase is most critical on impacting the watershed. Great amount of water and energy are used and emitting the gray water with detergents and dirts down to the drain. Undegradable plastic particles go into the watershed with each time people wash their clothes with the machine. To address the issue, ideas about visualizing water consumption, reusing the gray water, or reducing the frequency of washing clothes emerge. The final direction goes to reducing the times people do laundry when unnecessary, and the goal is to make the product light-weight and enjoyable to use.
I start the prototyping with materials on hand to test to idea and baisc dimension, and gradually evolve to the proof of concept prototype that the product can create a space for air to circulate when there is clothes on it. Also the objective is to make the product look nice and less like an appliance; it’s not for replacing the existing washers but to help people do less laundry. Throwing away a washer creates instant solid waste which is against the purpose of doing LCA.
On making the real working model, I use wood veneer and vacuum-form it to create the main body. A tiny fan with fragrance oil is installed on the stand to improve the circulation and remove the odor of the clothes.
Meet Scentaur, your washer's buddy
Scentaur is a personal alternative clothes cleaning system that reduces the frequency of doing laundry and the impact on the environment. Just simply put the outfits that wore once or twice on it and turn on the fan, it will create the circulation in the clothes and remove the odour and keep it fresh.
Reducing impact on the environment has always been the mission for Scentaur. The whole system can be packed in a very compact form that decreases the footprint on transportation. There are also more colors of choice to express vivid personality and make it perfect to be place anywhere in the living environment.
Special thanks to advisor Heidrun Mumper-Drumm, Daisuke Yamaguchi, and visiting expert Muireann McMahon for all the advices and having me represent ArtCenter to join Compostmodern 2013.
Impact of washers on water
veneer wood crafting
In a Nutshell
Sustainable clothes-washing solution alternative from washing machine based on Life-cycle Assessment