We all do laundry, or are perhaps lucky enough to have someone who does laundry for us. Most of that wash is done in warm or hot water, because, regardless of the claims made for laundry detergents, most detergents don't work very well in cold water. Unfortunately, the wash water has to be heated, and given an average wash temperature of about 40°C (104°F), this uses around 5-10 kWh per load. If both the temperature of the water and the amount of water used in clothes washing could be cut in half, nearly a trillion kilowatt-hours of energy could be saved each year - 0.5% of the world's total energy use. All that is stopping us is finding better laundry detergents. That's where the diamonds come in.
Enzymes are catalysts that boost chemical reactions by lowering the activation energy required for the reactions to occur. Added to detergents, they help break down the dirt into smaller pieces that can be more easily removed with water. While enzymatic detergents do work better than non-enzymatic ones, they are also more expensive. But what if the enzymes could be reused? A recent study by C.S. Pundir and Nidhi Chauhan, members of The American Chemical Society, may lead to cheaper laundry days and less in the way of valuable enzymes going down the drain.