By Chris Nicholls

LEEDS, UK: A Leeds University offshoot company, Xeros, has invented a washing machine it claims will wash a full load with only a single cup of water.

The machine, invented by Leeds University professor Stephen Burkinshaw, uses plastic chips to pound clothes clean clothes, and as such claims to use less than two per cent of the water and energy of a conventional machine.

The Xeros website said while “for many years, the textile industry has sought to reduce the amount of water it consumes, in-line with other industries, copious amounts of water continue to be used in the wet processing of textiles. The Xeros technology, which was developed by professor Stephen Burkinshaw, enables massive savings to be made in the amount of water and energy consumed during the washing, scouring, dyeing and printing of textiles.”

By using the recyclable plastic chips to remove and absorb dirt, the Burkinshaw said the Xeros machine also left clothes almost dry, removing the need for a tumble dryer.

"The performance of the Xeros process in cleaning clothes has been quite astonishing. We’ve shown that it can remove all sorts of everyday stains including coffee and lipstick while using a tiny fraction of the water used by conventional machines," said Burkinshaw in an interview with the UK’s Independent newspaper.

According to the article, approximately 20 kg of chips are added, along with a cup of water and detergent, to each wash. The chips can apparently be used up to 100 times – equivalent to six months’ washing.

Xeros said the machine could be on the UK market as early as 2009 and expected it to be used in the washing and dry-cleaning industries.