HIPPIES may not be the most frequent visitors to the launderette, but soon they will have no excuse not to wash their clothes, thanks to a new environmentally friendly washing machine - that uses only one cup of water and leaves clothes virtually dry - set to go on sale next year. The technology, developed at the University of Leeds, aims to save up to 90 per cent of water used by conventional machines, use 30 per cent less energy and have the environmental impact of taking two million cars off the road. The machine works by replacing most of the water with thousands of tiny, reusable nylon polymer beads, which attract and absorb dirt under humid conditions. Only a small amount of water and detergent is needed to dampen the clothes, loosen stains and create the water vapour that allows the beads to work. After the cycle is finished, the beads fall through a mesh in the machines drum and can be re-used up to a hundred times. Xeros, the company behind the technology, is aiming initially at the commercial washing market, including hotels and dry cleaners. Its chief executive, Bill Westwater, said that growing pressure on companies and consumers to cut water usage and carbon emissions should boost demand for the system. He hopes eventually to license the technology to domestic machine makers, allowing it to enter a market expected to be worth $50 billion next year. Weve got an eye on the consumer but it will take time and we hope commercial success could act as a springboard to move into the consumer market, Mr Westwater said. Xeros, which is demonstrating a working machine in the United States, has signed a deal with GreenEarth Cleaning, an environmentally friendly dry-cleaning business, to sell the technology across North America. Weve been very encouraged by the response from people, but the proof is in the pudding and that means putting a machine into someones operations and justifying the savings, Mr Westwater said. The technology was developed over the past 30 years by Stephen Burkinshaw, of the University of Leeds, and funded in its later stages by IP Group, an intellectual property commercialisation group. Mr Westwater said the relationship with IP Group meant that Xeros was relatively protected from the recession in terms of raising funds and was trying to attract more cash to develop the products bead removal process. Timesonline