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An ultrasonic dryer may soon take over your laundry room

The ultrasonic dryer prototype uses high frequency vibration to dry your laundry quickly and with less energy.

US Department of Energy

Modern home clothes dryers are convenient but often take way too long to do their job. New ultrasonic dryer technology dreamed up by scientists at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory could make slow, old-school dryers relics and in a hurry.

The project to create an ultrasonic dryer prototype was born from support from the US Department of Energy (DOE), specifically its Building Technologies Office. The team of engineers working on the advanced appliance say it can effectively remove moisture from a medium-size laundry load in about 20 minutes. That's blazingly fast performance for sure, since the DOE pins 50 minutes as the average time most Americans take to dry a batch of clothes.

This matches our own dryer experience, with the fastest crop of dryers we've tested finish running their cycles in about 40 minutes. The shortest time so far is the Kenmore 69133 (38 minutes) with LG DLEX 3570V (41 minutes), and LG DLEX 5000 (42 minutes) not far behind.

Understandably, the ultrasonic dryer uses radically different technology to shave its cycle times down so drastically. At the core of the system are components called piezoelectric transducers, gear that converts electricity into vibration. Their movement creates a high enough frequency to transform liquid water into cool water vapor, which the machine then removes.

In addition to being faster, DOE researchers claim the process is five times more efficient than standard clothes-drying methods. The appliance will apparently be more gentle to your clothing too, and reduce the typical wear and tear caused by regular clothes dryers.

The US Department of Energy did not immediately respond to requests for comment.