Bachelor of Engineering and Law student Erfan Mangani has won the Design for Change 2023 competition with his 3D printed solar distillation project that addresses issues of water equity in rural Australia.
Lead by Microbial Biotechnology and WIL lecturer, Dr Brita Zaferanloo, this annual competition develops students’ communication and technical skills as entrepreneurs. It focuses on supporting innovative, sustainable, and feasible designs that solve real-world challenges.
Designing a solution
Erfan’s innovative idea is creating 3D printed components that can be used as a solar distillation solution. The idea emerged from a project in Engineering unit, Technology in an Indigenous Context Project (COS10025), that challenged students to implement emerging technologies in innovative ways.
The project aims to address ongoing water equity issues in rural Australian communities, like those faced by Indigenous communities located in Aurukun, a town located in Northern Queensland.
Due to consistent warm and dry weather, their water supply has been identified as not being up to standard, and local council members have raised their concerns.
Simple, flexible, and sustainable
Erfan recognised that the emerging technology of 3D printing could be utilised to solve this problem, so he made a device that could distil contaminated water.
The design is a 3D printed component that can be attached to bottles or jars and can provide clean water via solar distillation. The contaminated water in the bottom bottle is evaporated by sunlight, travelling through the nozzle, where it’s condensed to clean, drinkable water and captured in the top bottle.
Erfan tested the design with a prototype of the component
A key aspect of the project was ensuring its potential for future improvements and integration, so simplicity and flexibility was at the forefront of the design. 3D printing is highly customizable which is suitable for creating a design that works best for the specific community. All the component materials are also recyclable to ensure sustainability.
A close-up rendered image of the component
Most of the device is hollow, with various gaps within its frame. The nozzle of the component is also a triangular prism, rather than a circular tube. This was done intentionally to reduce print time and material cost. A less complicated design also reduces the chance of costly failure prints.
Erfan was happy to be selected by the judges and encourages anyone interested in design to get involved.
“The Design for Change competition was a fantastic opportunity to test my innovation and design skills, and I will be looking to get more involved for future semesters,” Erfan said.
Erfan's Design for Change video submission