Leeds Uni spin-off switches focus to the home market

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ENVIRONMENTALLY friendly washing machine firm ​Xeros has unveiled its ​first ​machine for use in the home after seeing strong take-up of its commercial machines in the US.

​The group, a Rotherham-based spin-out from Leeds University, designs washing machines that replace most of the water with polymer beads.

The beads attract stains to their surface, extracting dirt and producing what the company claims is a far superior result compared with traditional washing machines.

Xeros said its cleaning systems save laundry customers up to 75 per cent of the water, up to 50 per cent of the energy (used to heat water in the washing machine) and up to 50 per cent of the detergent compared with conventional washing machines.

The group is already supplying big name US hotel groups, such as IHG, Hilton, Marriott, and Wyndham and Choice, with commercial machines, but said its scientists in Rotherham have now come up with a prototype which it hopes to launch in the US domestic market within two years.

Xeros has decided that rather than compete with American washing machine giants, it will license the bead technology to US manufacturers so they can make their own models.

So far five out of the major 10 producers have expressed an interest and Xeros said talks are ongoing.

​Xeros CEO Bill Westwater said: “The licence will say that only Xeros beads are to be used in the machine. The whole point is for us to sell more polymer beads.”

Mr Westwater admitted that US manufacturers were initially quite sceptical.

“When they first come to us they are pretty cynical,” he said.

“But we can show them we are achieving benefits that it’s impossible to replicate. Also our machines are not that different to what they are already making.”

He said that typically the machines will cost the same price as the top of the range machines that are currently on sale.

Xeros’ selling point is that customers quickly recoup money by reducing water, heating and detergent costs.

The firm is now working on the second generation of beads which are super-absorbent.