I noticed this story in today's Ma'ariv, reprinted from the Daily Telegraph (registration required). Excerpts:
A British scientist has found a way of cleaning clothes using nothing but water.
Richard Pashley, a professor of physical chemistry at the Australian National University in Canberra, has discovered that when tiny air "particles" are removed from water - a process known as "de-gassing" - the water lifts oily stains from the surface of clothes, allowing soap-free cleaning.
Prof Pashley said that the technique was so effective that even the greasiest stains could be removed. "You can use de-gassed water to clean whatever you have dirtied. We even experimented with Vaseline. We cleaned it off completely. This is a new area of science - the mixing of oil and water. It could be a cleaning revolution."
Brilliant, no? But there's a catch:
In his experiment, Prof Pashley, whose findings are published in The Journal of Physical Chemistry, de-gassed water by freezing it with liquid nitrogen.
Mom! I can't do the laundry! We're out of liquid nitrogen!
There may be an alternative, though:
To simplify the process in the future, he intends to develop semipermeable membranes to de-gas water as it passes through.
"He intends to develop"? Don't hold your breath. Let's check back in ten years and see if this pans out commercially.
The paper was published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry B. The full text is available for a fee.