Sustainable Towel Drying, Sanitizing, and Heating Product

Problem Statement 

According to Soakology, a UK bathroom expert, Americans on average take 6.5 showers a week. In the US, it takes about 25 gallons of water per hotel room, per night to wash the towels for the room according to Xeros cleaning. There are 5,001,163 hotel rooms in the United States (business and travel news), which would mean that each day, 125,029,075 gallons of water are used to clean hotel towels. One common discomfort that people have are wet towels when they try to use one more than once, at home or at a hotel. 

Define The Problem

The problem of having wet towels after a shower has plagued America for decades. After you finish a shower that is supposed to be refreshing, the worst feeling is having a towel that is not dry. To fix this, we want to create a towel dryer and sanitizer that will allow people to reuse their towels more. The root cause of this problem is reusing towels more than once. 

Problem Background and Statistics 

as shown in our problem statement, there is a great need for our product. Americans, on average, according to Soakology, take 6.5 showers a week. Furthermore, it takes a hotel 25 gallons of water per room, per night to wash towel, per Xeros cleaning. Therefore, hotels around the country, which has a total of 5,001,163 hotel rooms, according to business travel news, use 125,029,075 gallons of water per day to wash towels. If we could reduce this number, it would greatly impact the environment in a positive light. To do this, we want to reduce how often people at hotels and at home have to wash their towels. The leading reason for washing towels is to dry them, because after more than one use they can become soggy.

The clothing dryer is the largest consumer of electricity out of household appliances, according to the EPA. This is displayed by the provided chart on the following pages. If we can cut down on the number of times that people and hotels have to dry towels, then, we can increase the number of times a towel can be reused by consuming less energy with our product, reducing the carbon footprint. The second chart that is included on the following page shows the peak efficiency of UV light for killing bacteria, spores and mold cultures according to UV solutions. UV light disinfects by breaking down bonds within microorganismal DNA, producing thymine dimers that kill or disable organisms according to Wikipedia. 

The next chart that is shown on the following page is the financial and environmental impact that large tumble dryers have in Great Britain. As you can see, according to Hangerworld, the statistics point to constant tumble drying being relatively expensive for both us and the environment. By having a small scale towel dryer, it can reduce the number of times the large other has to be used, saving energy and lowering carbon impact. 

Introduction and Background Information

In this project, we have had to use many different principles within STEM—science, technology, engineering, and math. Science is defined as, “the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.” In our project, science is used in the testing and experimental phases of prototyping. Trying ideas in practice to test hypotheses is the most crucial part of answering any question. Science also involves gathering data, analyzing it, and then using it to make measured and calculated concussions to better your product. 

Technology is, “the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, especially in industry.” This definition goes hand in hand with engineering, as technology is applied within engineering to solve a problem. Using the scientific knowledge the we have gained through the principles of experimentation form new technologies. 

Engineering is defined as, “the branch of science and technology concerned with the design, building, and use of engines, machines, and structures.” In our project, we are designing a product from scratch, which is the definition of engineering, and the reason why this is an engineering course. We are using new and innovative technologies to solve our problem, which is also part of what it means to engineer something. Taking a problem, finding a new, innovative, and creative way to solve it, and then applying the solution is the most crucial part of engineering.

Math is defined as, “the abstract science of number, quantity, and space. Mathematics may be studied in its own right, or as it is applied to other disciplines such as physics and engineering.” Through math, we are able to make sense of the data gathered in testing. Being able to understand data, and then use it to make informed decisions to better a product is the most crucial integration of math within the other principles of science, technology, and engineering. 

Through combining all of the principles of STEM, we are able to achieve a successful end product that solves our problem. Science, technology, engineering, and math are all very integrated within each other, which is why we must analyze all of them to gain a better understanding of the most efficient way of achieving our end-goal/solution.  


Principles and Practices, Applications:

  1. With the goal of achieving a product that sterilizes/sanitizes the towel as it passes through our machine, we are using the power of UV light to do so. UV light, specifically at 254 nm, is scientifically considered bactericidal. 254 nm wavelengths of light kill or inactivate microorganisms through disrupting nucleic acid structure and therefore, disabling DNA. Because the cell is not able to perform vital DNA synthesis and replication, the cell dies. UV radiation is 6-log efficient at 6 inches, which means that it is 99.9999999999% efficient. (We used this principle in the research phase to determine the best solution to sterilize our towels.)

  2. Another scientific principle that we are using is a principle of fluid dynamics—Bernoulli's principle, which is when fast-moving air is at lower pressure than slow-moving air, so the pressure above the wing is lower than the pressure below. By using this tear-drop shape in our blowers, the air is split when it hits the leading edge of the tear drop, which increases for pressure underneath and reduces it on top, and this pressure differences casques the air to accelerate down the slope and out of the blower. (We used this principle in the computer design phase of creating the blowers.)

  3. We used experimentation in the process of replicating our prototypes of the blower system. Hypothesizing that our curved design would be best, we ran tests and sought to find out which design had the greatest airflow. In the end, we found the best combination of our air harnessing unit that is situated around the motor and the actual blower design with flexible tubing. (We used experimentation when determining what blower design to use in the testing phase.)

  4. In the process of drying the towel, we are also using heating coils. The process of evaporation is important in drying anything, and is especially so with a thick towel situated with water. Through increasing entropy via heating the air, and then the water molecules in the towel’s fibers, the hydrogen bonds that hold the water molecules to each other break, releasing the water in its gaseous state. (This principle was used when we ere researching a solution to dry the towel faster.) 

Picture: This picture represents the fruits of the scientific method, as we have come up with new iterations of our blower design to continually improve the system as we have gathered data from our experiments.


Principles and Practices, Applications:

  1. One form of technology that we are using to help in the creation of our production is AutoCAD, for computer design. This piece of technology is crucial for prototyping, testing, and then making our final product. Without computer aided design technologies, the process of rapid replication would not be possible, as hand drawing designs and then sculpting 3D models would take months per each iteration, versus merely days with aid of the computer. (We used the technology of AutoCAD in the design and prototyping phases.)

  2. The next form of technology that is being used within the fabrication of our product is a 3D printer. By using 3D printing, in tandem with CAD, we are able to quickly replicated our designs and turn them into actual, testable solutions. Without this ability, we would be much further behind in the design process. (We used this form of technology in the design and prototyping phase.)

  3. A form of technology that will be used with our product is an Arduino chip-set architecture to control each part of our system. This will enable a highly flexible and versatile control and management systems to run the many independent components within our product. It can be easily programmed using a modified version of the C++ computer programming language, and can be downloaded from a computer to the chip using a USB port. (This technology will be used in the later stages of testing.)

  4. Another important technology that will be utilized in our product is the connected servos motor that will control our rollers, and will be connected to the Arduino platform mentioned above. Using a motor with a 2 gear system will be able to spin both rollers in opposing directions which ensures that the towel will be fed through our machine properly. The technology that is a motor, using the electrical system the is regulated by the controlling computer chip, is crucial in making our production function as desired. (Will be used in the manufacturing stage of this project.


Picture: The 3D printer is a form of technology that we continue to use throughout the design process of our product. Through rapidly being able to produce prototypes, we can see what works and what doesn’t in a physical model. 


Principles and Practices, Applications:

  1. Solving a problem is the basis of engineering. The process of drafting all of our different potential design solutions is a great example of how engineering is used. We have a set list of parameters and problems that we are designing around and solving, and discovering how to do so is the process that we know as engineering. In the end, to achieve a functional product, it requires the bringing in and applying many different STEM principles. (Design sketching and drawing is done in the prototyping stages.)

  2. The process of actually constructing and putting together the different pieces that we have created is also an example of engineering. After 3D printing our models, we fit them together to form a cohesive system, which we then test using the principles of science. By putting parts together, seeing how they fit, and making changes, we are continually improving our process and overall design, which is a crucial part of engineering. (Used during the prototyping phase.)

  3. The principles of engineering were used when we were deciding how to alter our design of our air collection ring that rests on our motor to increase airflow and reduce resistance. Through sketching, modeling, and the testing different solutions, we found a model that works the best and that will be incorporated into our final design. (Used in the testing and prototyping phases.)

  4. We used engineering when we were initially wiring our problem statement for this entire project. The process of research in designing any engineering solution is crucial, as the the information that one is able to use in order to better design a solution can better the eventual outcome. Using our own analysis techniques when thinking of the potential solution to solve our problem while condition research also helped us to form a cohesive strategy to do so. Our engineering minds also focused on the pros and cons of existing projects, so that we would know what direction to take with our own. (Used during the research phase.) 

Picture: Through brainstorming and sketching out our ideas, we have been able to come up with engineering solutions, rooted in science and math, to solve our problems throughout the design process. In this case, we were trying to figure out how we could increase air speeds without increasing the speed of the blower. The solution we came up with involves using an airplane wing-like design. 


Principles and Practices, Applications:

  1. Mathematics was used when calculating and dimensioning all of our different parts when we were sketching them both by hand and on the computer. Through using simple mathematical operations, in addition to more complex trigonometric figuring for angles. Using our mathematical skill to double check these calculations is also important, as inaccuracies can lead to inaccurate models, and inaccurate models lead to inaccurate results. (Design and prototyping.)

  2. During the survey stage of this operation, we used different statistical measures, such as percents, averages, minimums, and maximums two analyst the data that we were receiving from the population on whether or not the product would be of interest to them. Our data shows that there is a great interest for our product and that it would be a wise use of our time to develop the idea. (Research phase.)

  3. In the future, we will use different mathematical measures to analyze and measure the success of our tests. We will use different numbers from wind speed monitors and electrical voltage meters when conducting such test. Seeing trends in the numbers as we continue to run tests is important, as we must be able to make adjustments accordingly to ensure that our product is continuously improving. (Used during the testing phase.”

  4. In the final stage of this year long quest, during our presentation, we will have to use convincing statistical models and other forms of broken-down mathematical analysis to present to the panel. This way, all of the different forms of mathematics that we will use along the way can be understood by anyone. Communication is key when creating new idea. (Used in the presentation phase.)


Picture: In conducting our survey, we gathered over 750 unique data points to analyze using different statistical measurements, models, and representations. This helped us to show a need and desire for our product within the market. 

We would greatly appreciate if you would sponsor our PCB and assembly. We are students and a large discount or sponsorship would be greatly appreciated to make our project a reality. 

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Mar 07,2019
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