Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg visited Xeros on Friday 14th September 2012

Left to right: James Newman, Chairman of Finance Yorkshire, Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister and John Samuel, Xeros Chairman

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg visited Finance Yorkshire investee company Xeros to hear first-hand about the company’s unique cleaning system and celebrate its first commercial sale in the UK.

Xeros has established a process that delivers superior cleaning performance yet uses significantly less water, energy and detergent than conventional washing systems. The process uses small nylon polymer beads to ‘attract’ stains. Within the Xeros washing system, the gentle flow of the beads acts just like water. They tumble with the washload and transport stains off garments to be locked into the nylon’s molecular structure.

Mr Clegg met senior Xeros executives and recent graduates from the University of Sheffield on Friday 14 September. Chief Technology Officer Dr Stephen Jenkins explained the unique patented technology to Mr Clegg and how the Xeros polymer beads work within the drum to clean garments.

Xeros Chairman John Samuel outlined the firm’s growth from a small start-up four years ago to a blossoming enterprise, which employs twenty scientists, engineers and support staff in Sheffield and three people in the USA.

Mr Samuel highlighted to Mr Clegg the valuable role that government grants had played in supporting the company’s R&D programme and attracting high-calibre employees to Xeros. With support from the company’s investors and the continued access to grants, Mr Samuel was optimistic that Xeros could triple its workforce in south Yorkshire over the next two-to-three years.

Dr Jenkins and Mr Samuel explained to the Deputy Prime Minister that the company had reached a new landmark, having sold its first commercial grade cleaning system to Johnsons Dry Cleaners, the UK’s leading high street chain. Mr Clegg cut the ribbon on the first commercial unit, which will be installed at one of Johnsons’ dry cleaning premises in the next few weeks.

Mr Clegg also met some of the company’s recent employees, including Mayki Xiao and Ana Tellechea Lopez (pictured) who graduated from University of Sheffield with Masters in Materials Science &Engineering and Engineering Materials, respectively.

Mr Clegg concluded his visit with a preview of Xeros’s prototype cleaning system for the domestic market conducted by Engineering Director Simon Wells. Domestic washing machines consume approximately 50 litres of water per wash. On average, washer/dryer systems account for 13 per cent of household energy use. If all UK households were fitted with machines powered by Xeros technology, the potential savings to UK consumers would total more than £2 billion per annum. It would also represent a net reduction of 4.2 million tonnes of CO2 per annum, the equivalent of taking 1.4 million cars off UK roads.

Mr Clegg quoted “It takes your breath away. It is such a simple idea, but it is so revolutionary,”

“It could save billions and billions of litres of water over time. The implications are profound in terms of water and energy use.

“This is a great example of what we want to see happening in the British economy. It was academics that first came up with the idea and it has been translated, partly thanks to support from the government and private investors, into something that hopefully make its way into the shops fairly soon.”

Quoted in an interview at Xeros, 14 September 2012.

Note: this news article is from Finance Yorkshire’s previous fund. Read more about Finance Yorkshire