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World's Largest Solar-Powered Laundromat.

Photo: Brian Kersey / AP

Tom Benson's Laundromat in a Chicago suburb has 153 washers and 148 dryers, with hot water powered by solar energy:

Benson's boast about having the largest coin-operated laundry on Earth might be open to debate. At least one laundry in Denver claims to have a few more washers and dryers — though Benson hastens to add that it seems to have less floor space than his.

What's not in doubt is that his $150,000 hot water system has become a darling of environmentalists and officials smitten with the solar promise, heralded as a prime example of how sun energy is practical, simple and cost-wise.

"The World's Largest Laundromat has served as a role model," said Illinois Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn, a vocal solar advocate. "It's shown that solar can work in the Midwest climate, in the heartland."


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