The team, mentored by Matt Ramezanian Pour, designed an electrocoagulation reactor.
The device attaches to a washing machine and brings a solution to grey water by extracting dirt, oil, and metals, so the water can be reused in a laundry application, Johnson said.
The idea is for particles to get contaminants to bond together, so it’s easier to remove.
Johnson said he had a breakdown when the project got run over in the driveway the night before it was set for testing at Ara. He thought it was “unfixable” and “a year down the drain.”
Following this, he carried out a continuity test and every electrode plate was connected, which meant it wouldn’t work.
For three days, he frantically tried to fix it and got it to work with about half the electrode plates it should’ve had.
“There was a lot of damage to it, but surprisingly, the results were brilliant,” Johnson said.
Electrocoagulation is usually done in industrial quantities, the volume of a shipping container, or in small test batches, the volume of a cup, Johnson said.
“The big take away I’ve had from engineering is to try to do something sustainable,” Johnson said.
Engineering New Zealand Marketing Advisor Mimi O’Callaghan said the project was impressive.
“The Electro-Coagulator stood out as the winning design because not only did it address a real environmental problem, but it also gave a workable and practical solution.”
The judges for the prestigious award were Anna Crowther, Director Façade Consultants; Matt Bishop, Managing Director BVT; Nathan Stantiall, Group Manager, Programmes, Callaghan Innovation; and Michael Pervan, Managing Director, AIM Altitude New Zealand.
The Electro-Coagulator was also awarded the Final Year Engineering Award by Ara; second place by New Zealand Bachelor of Engineering Technology; and the Final Year Project Award by the Bachelor of Engineering Technology Management Group.