Challenge presented by
With over 40 years of expertise in the dry cleaning industry, Daoust Forget / Daoust Eco is the largest network of dry cleaners and green cleaners in Canada.
The Daoust/Forget Group is always on the lookout for technologies that can improve the quality of its work and reduce its ecological footprint. Numerous projects have been launched and many more are underway to achieve this environmental objective. One example is the use of biodegradable cleaning products.
Recently, the problem of microplastics in water sources has been widely publicized. These particles, which can measure a few microns, come from objects such as clothing and other fabric accessories. Unfortunately, these microfibers have a negative impact on the environment, especially when their composition is synthetic, such as polyester, or when they contain non-biodegradable chemicals.
It is estimated that several regulations will be imposed in the future to reduce the spread of these particles. Among these, it is assumed that new residential washing machines will be regulated.
To reduce the presence of these particles in the water, Groupe Daoust/Forget set itself the challenge of finding solutions to reduce its impact as a company. The simplest and most affordable solution we found was to install a filter at the outlet of all our industrial washing machines.
- Groupe Daoust / Forget forms a network of over 120 franchised cleaners.
Microfibers : Particles from both organic and synthetic fabrics, mainly from clothing and accessories.
Microfilter: Filter placed at the outlet of residential and industrial washing machines to catch microfibers released during cleaning.
There are two main research phases in this project. The first phase involves analyzing and reducing the impact of physical particles released by wastewater. These include the microfibers and microplastics released by clothing. The microfiltration solution will aim directly at drastically reducing their concentration.
The primary user of the microfiber filter will be the Daoust/Forget Group. Following the prototyping phase, the filter will be installed on a number of industrial washing machines in several Daoust branches (franchisees) to further test its efficiency. Once the filter is 100% functional, it can be installed on the entire Daoust cleaning network. This will reduce the number of microfibers released throughout the network, which is the primary objective of the project.
A future second phase will focus more on the chemical substances released by all types of clothing, both organic and synthetic. Although organic garments are biodegradable, the manufacturing process often includes chemicals that come off the garment during washing.
The following document describes only phase 1 of the research project.
Microfibers are released when clothes are washed in both residential and commercial washing machines. These microfibers come almost entirely from synthetic garments such as polyester or nylon.
A few filters already exist on the market. However, these are almost entirely of the residential type. This means that these filters are only applicable to residential washing machines.
In industrial environments, the design would need to consider various wash programs: regular garment categories are cotton garments, such as cotton shirts, and synthetic garments, which include polyester or nylon fabrics.
Primary Objective: Filtration’s Efficiency
Based on the filtration rate of similar residential products already available on the market, we can estimate that for the filter solution to be viable, it must have a filtration rate of around 90%.
In theory, the size of microfibers can vary from a few micrometers to a few millimeters. The filter must therefore be able to catch even the smallest particles.
- Reduced ecological impact : As one of the overall aims of the project is to reduce the ecological footprint of dry cleaning, it is important that the filtration method is also environmentally friendly. Thus, the objective is to incorporate a reusable filter into the solution. Two options are available for this criterion. Either the filter is removable and cleanable, or we use recyclable or biodegradable disposable filters.
- Cleaning: Since the washing machines at Daoust branches are in operation all day long, they will collect a lot of microfibers. The filter will therefore have to be cleaned regularly by employees. We expect the filter to be cleaned at most once a week. In addition, the process of cleaning and replacing the filter should take no more than five minutes, so as not to interfere with the employee’s other tasks. Evaluation: With a simple schedule, it’s possible to determine how often the filter is changed. In addition, it would be possible to calculate the number of cleanings required before the filter needs to be changed.
- Filters lifespan : Product efficiency is also influenced by its lifespan. Since the filter is used all day long, it needs to be durable. The filter must be able to last a few years with an efficiency rate of over 80% before it needs to be changed completely. Evaluation: We will re-evaluate the filter’s efficiency after a large number of washes to see if it is still above 80%.
- Filter versatility : The filter will have to be modeled for the Miele PW6207, the most common washing machine in Daoust branches, but it should be able to be installed on at least one or two other industrial washing machines. We’ll be assessing whether the filter can be installed correctly on other machines, as well as testing its filtration efficiency on different models.
- Reduced ecological impact (materials): Since one of the primary goals of the project is to reduce Daoust’s ecological footprint, it goes without saying that the microfilter itself must be built in an environmentally friendly manner using materials with low environmental impact. We’d like the filter housing to be made of at least 50% recycled materials.
- System installation: Since the aim is to install the microfilter on as many of Daoust’s Miele PW6207 machines as possible, the system must be easy for the technician to install. If the system is easy to install, it should be up and running in less than 30 minutes.
- The above criteria are based on a filter system, given the availability of this type of solution in the residential sector. Daoust Eco is open to other treatment solutions that meet the main efficiency objective.
- Daoust is open to co-development projects.
- Any level of technological maturity (TRL) is eligible.
- For a decentralized system, the maximum dimensions per washing machine are indicated below.
- Daoust Eco is also open to solutions requiring a centralized system (one system per branch). This type of system will need to be as compact as possible, given the variety of configurations and the limited space available in branches.
Due to the dimensions of the Miele PW6207 washing machine and the space available in Daoust branches, design space is limited. We have determined that the maximum dimensions of the design space are approximately 20cm x 50cm x 100cm.
- A maximum width of 50cm is allowed due to the maximum space available in Daoust branches. This includes the distance between the machine’s wastewater outlet and the plumbing system inlet.
- A height of 20cm is present between the washing machine’s water outlet and the floor where the water drainage system is located.
- The length is variable, since there are no constraints that reduce the available space. Thus, we inferred that 100cm is more than necessary to install the filtration system.
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