Carnegie Mellon students take home first place in annual ChemE Cube competition

Ryan Noone

Nov 15, 2022

Carnegie Mellon students pose for a photo after winning the 2022 Rapid Manufacturing Institute's ChemE Cube competition

Carnegie Mellon Chemical Engineering students took home first place in the 2022 RAPID Manufacturing Institute's ChemE Cube competition for their invention, the "Water-Mellon."

The competition was held during this year's American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) annual meeting. Teams were tasked with creating a "modular on-demand water purification" system in a one cubic-foot plant. 

Designed to affordably and sustainably remove all contaminants from water, the "Water-Mellon" uses an activated carbon filter sourced from coconuts to attract organic and other non-polar compounds, as its large surface area provides a high absorption capacity. The filter can be reactivated, allowing it to be recycled, ultimately reducing waste.

Once the water has made its way through the filter, it's treated with sodium hypochlorite to destroy bacteria and viruses through oxidative protein unfolding that denatures microorganisms' proteins.

A second activated carbon unit then removes the excess sodium hypochlorite and any remaining contaminants while also reducing odor.

Additionally, the "Water-Mellon" has the potential for parallel purification. Developers say that by connecting multiple units to one inlet and outlet stream, it can effectively meet the water demands of developing nations.

Members of Carnegie Mellon's 2022 ChemE Cube team are listed below:

  • Seniors: Yerim Lee, Lance Miller, Shivank Joshi, Alayna Mikush
  • Juniors: Gabe Mendez-Sanders, Davina Jain, Claire Su, Justin Croyle