UK tech firm signs ‘milestone’ deal to sell water-saving washing machines

Leeds-based Xeros Technology Group has signed a “major” deal with Indian appliances group IFB Industries to manufacture domestic washing machines using Xeros water-saving XOrb and XDrum technologies.

XOrbs are recyclable polymer spheres developed by Xeros to replace up to 80% of the water used in a typical cycle, while the XDrum is the patented technology developed by Xeros to store the polymer spheres when they are not in use.

Xeros said sales of its “near-waterless” commercial washing machines and domestic washing machines incorporating its technologies are planned to commence in India in 2020 and 2021 respectively.

Mark Nichols, chief executive of Xeros, said that the licensing agreement with the “leading Indian OEM for both the domestic appliance and commercial laundry markets is another major milestone in the commercialisation of our cleaning technologies”.

He added: “IFB’s capabilities and market reach make them a very strong commercialisation partner in a country where water demand is expected to increase by more than 60% over the next 30 years, with some 80% of the current population already impacted by water scarcity.

“With this agreement, IFB’s customers will be able to reduce water, detergent and energy consumption while simultaneously benefiting from improved cleaning performance and garment life extension.”

In January, the company signed a deal with a subsidiary of one of the world’s largest washing machine manufacturers, Midea Group, who committed to develop and design a prototype domestic washing machine including Xeros’s technologies.

If successful, the agreement allows for both parties to enter into commercial discussions under a separate agreement and timetable.

Water standards body Wras has said washing machines are one of the biggest culprits for water usage, using an estimated 50 litres per wash, with older machines using even more than this.

Xeros said that during the past five years, its near-waterless commercial washing machines, which are certified as an Environmentally Preferable Product, have saved just over 887.2 million litres of water – enough to keep the taps running for a year in 5,377 UK households or to power 148m toilet flushes.

A rapidly growing, increasingly urbanised population is causing extreme water-stress in many parts of the world. Even the UK could face water shortages within 25 years.

Nichols said: “Having completed the lion’s share of our development our disruptive water-saving technologies are now firmly on a path to commercialisation under an IP-rich and asset-light business model in global scale industries.

“We see the demand for our technology increasing as environmental and societal pressures continue to put intense strain on finite water resources – both in terms of pricing and consumption. Manufacturers, consumers and regulators are increasingly demanding that supply chains improve their sustainability credentials with a particular focus on reducing water usage. Demands that we can help meet.

“We have achieved a number of major inflection points with others expected to follow in 2019, each of which have the capacity to generate significant value.

“As we end the development phase, our cost base will continue to decline ahead of the implementation of the contracts we have won, which are expected to generate high-margin royalty revenues.”

  • Read more about Xeros technology in our exclusive interview with Christian Cullinane, managing director, consumer brands, Xeros, in our April issue, pg 33
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