The Polar Dehydration Programme uses a large chamber that can hold up to 2,000 sheets and 1,500 pillowcases, though individual machines will be made to order. A unit will cost around £6,000. Estimated running costs are £4/day.

The system will process pillows, pillowcases, curtains and mattresses and even wooden items.

When the chamber is activated, conditions inside have been likened to those outside an aircraft at 35,000ft where the temperature is -60C and the windchill is -70C, giving a combined freezing effect of -130C.

Tests at the Medical Entomology Centre in Cambridge, have shown that the system is 100% effective on house dust mites, flea larva, bed bugs and woodworm when treated for between 2h and 4h at -50C.

The system dehydrates rather than freezes and draws out moisture using liquid alcohol. Margate-based Euroclean Centre which markets the system says it can reach -100C in 10min.

Mr Savva said: “We are aiming at the laundry market. We’re hoping that now we have a patent, more laundries will be interested in operating the system.” Other target markets include hotels, hospitals, residential homes and boarding schools and also a service for domestic customers. It is envisaged that hospitals could store linen in units as a means of combating hospital-acquired infections.

Euroclean Centre explains that laundries would process linen in the Polar Dehydration unit for around 4h to eradicate house mites and other bugs, and then launder it using existing equipment at lower temperatures with less detergent.

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