Bristol Students Improve Amazing Hand-Spun Washing Machine Design
gray front load washing machines
Photo by Dieter K on Unsplash

Bristol Students Improve Life Changing Hand-Spun Washing Machine Design

Ella Kipling June 1, 2022

The Washing Machine Project, which makes hand-spun washing machines, was founded in 2019 by engineer Navjot Sawhney who invented the device during a sabbatical in India. 

With 3,000 units on order, Sawhney has recruited a team of eight students from the University of Bristol to help improve the design of the washing machine. Each student is working on one part of the machine, such as the hand crank, which is being looked at by student Henry Morgan. 

‘Engineering for good is what I’ve always wanted to do, so to do something hands on with a humanitarian benefit is amazing. Many of the machines will go to refugee camps and really poor areas of the world. It’s hard to think of a more different environment to that than a controlled lab in Bristol, but it’s really nice to see tangible evidence of what we’re doing helping people in difficult circumstances,’ he said

Sawhney described his experience working with the students as ‘hugely inspirational and humbling,’ and stated that ‘Gen Z is quite angry at the world they’re inheriting and want to make a difference.’ 

‘The research they are doing will directly change the design of our machine and therefore the product that people use on the ground. They have already given us some really good insights,’ he continued on to say. 

Huxlo, a Bristol engineering firm founded by former University of Bristol student Matthew Mew, has manufactured a batch of the machines pro-bono. Mew said that the Washing Machine project has ‘commendable and ambitious goals’ and Huxlo’s expertise in digital manufacturing ‘has pushed them a little further towards the destination.’ 

According to the University of Bristol, over the next year, the project will look to fulfill orders for more than 3,000 machines in refugee camps and poorer regions in Iraq, India, Lebanon and more. Approximately 15% of the interest for the machines has come from low-income families here in the UK.

The Washing Machine Project’s mission is to ’empower women with the time to take charge of their lives,’ by providing ‘displaced and low-income communities with an accessible, off-grid washing solution.’ Their products are designed to resolve the lack of water, sanitation, and hygiene facilities and their effects, and aim to alleviate the burden of unpaid domestic work.

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Ella Kipling is an Entertainment and News Writer at GRV Media. She regularly writes a mixture of news and features for HITC and has been part of the team since 2020. After graduating from the University of Birmingham with a BA (Hons) in English Literature, Ella is currently studying for an MA in Magazine Journalism at City University. She has a keen interest in current affairs and can usually be found reading the news, with her nose in a book (and updating her Goodreads), talking about women’s rights, or listening to Showtunes.