By James Wells

Malmesbury, UK: Like its Contrarotator washing machine, Dyson has departed from the vacuum cleaner business once again to use its 420 research and design staff to develop a hand dryer for bathrooms called the Airblade.

Designed to be more hygienic and more than twice as fast as conventional hand dryers which utilise 60-year-old technology based on evaporation to dry hands, the Airblade uses an air stream which flows at 560km/h, courtesy of the proprietary Dyson Digital Motor – a small, long-life, low-energy and brushless motor spinning at 1,666 revolutions per second which the company claims uses 83 per cent less energy compared to conventional hand dryers.

According to a statement distributed by Dyson, the unheated air is channelled through a 0.3mm gap, no thicker than an eyelash. A sheet of air acts like an invisible windscreen wiper to wipe moisture from hands leaving them completely dry within 10 seconds.

The Airblade will be available to buy or lease in the UK and Ireland prior in November for £549 ($A1391), but there are no plans at this stage to introduce the product in Australia.

Although the price may represent a substantial investment for a domestic bathroom, Dyson claims that a washroom that uses 200 paper towels per day it will cost $A2,409 more to run per year than a washroom with an Airblade.

“Instead of painfully slow evaporation, Dyson Airblade creates a high speed sheet of air, the ‘blade’, which gently squeegees your hands dry.  It’s very quick and it’s very clean,” said Dyson founder, James Dyson.

According to Dyson research, conventional hand dryers either don’t work or simply take too long or in some cases people give up waiting and wipe damp hands on their clothes. The company found that men are worse offenders than women and the under-35s are the most impatient of all.

Dyson claims that air inside a washroom contains fecal germs and is laden with bacteria, is heated and blown onto people’s shoes, clothes and freshly washed hands using conventional hand dryers.

“People rub their hands together to speed up the lengthy drying process but research proves that this actually draws bacteria from deeper skin layers and fingernails.  Most people get frustrated and leave with damp hands which are 1,000 times more likely to cross contaminate than dry hands,” the company said.

Utilising its vacuum cleaner research, Airblade removes bacteria and mould from the air using HEPA filtration. Waste water is passed through an iodine resin filter to disinfect it, while Piezo crystal technology releases the sterilised water as a harmless invisible mist.

Dyson says the Airblade has undergone extensive biological and scientific testing by its in-house microbiologists, as well as research conducted by Leeds University and Bradford University.

Dyson’s skincare research is also supported by the British Skin Foundation and the Royal Institute of Public Health.

Dyson has trialed the Airblade in hospitals, restaurants, petrol service stations and other public places.