University of Southern California The USC Andrew and Erna Viterbi School of Engineering Pre-College Summer Programs - Student Portfolios

Water Treatment Train (ChE)
Students will:

  1. Design and build water delivery system that:
    • Samples water as its being delivered testing for nitrate, nitrite, pH, iron, alkalinity, chlorine, copper, and hardness
    • Samples are dynamically collected in test tubes
    • Test chemicals are added to test tubes just prior to samples of water being collected
    • Delivers water to collection point
    • Allows for delivery of acceptable water to distribution point or diversion of unacceptable water to reprocessing point

 Day 3, Group 1: Cindy, Eric, Kimberly, Kylie, Victoria

We were given a design that we did not agree with, so today was devoted to reconstructing it. We were given a completely vertical tubing detour, with the part to siphon off the water into test tubes directly after and behind the point of entry. The vertical tubing detour, unless tilted at the exact angles, would leave a lot of possible areas for the water to be stuck in when flowing down. Furthermore, placing the tube to siphon water into the test tubes directly below the first large horizontal tube was poorly chosen; the water, because of gravity, flowed into that tube at a high pressure, which was counterproductive because testing the water did not require the amounts that we were receiving, and also because not much water was entering the rest of the system. In addition, the outlet portion of the tubing was designed such that, if one specific spout was chosen, not all of the water would exit that spout; some water would continue to flow and be stuck at the end of the tubing, where it was closed off. We were also given a plentiful amount of wood and glue to build the table that would elevate the outlets so that the water would flow into buckets, which had not been definitively planned out yet. 

Our plan modified the test tube siphoning portion to be parallel, rather than below, the first horizontal tube. We also changed the tubing going down such that, rather than going completely vertical, it was slanting down in a structure similar to a spiralling staircase. We also angled each tube so that there would be as few horizontal pieces as possible. We then took apart the outlet tubing and went with the design made by the very first group who worked on it, which consisted of one straight tubing structure, alternating the valves with spouts going vertically and facing outwards, so that the pressure of a closed valve would push the water out of the desired spout.

In addition, we built the support structures. Using 4 flat pieces of balsa wood and reinforcing them, we created a long table that would elevate the outlets. We also built a ramp to create an incline for the outlet tubing to rest on top of the table.

By the end of the day, the challenges we faced were:

1. There is no support structure to keep the top tubing angled at all times. Since the structure must be free-standing, that is a problem that definitely needs to be fixed.

2. When the water is exiting a specific spout, the water pressure is often too high for all of it to exit one spout. As a result, water exits from the spout right before the chosen spout as well as from the chosen spout. We think that this might be fixed by attaching longer connection tubes between each spout component, but were unable to test it.

3. We also have not placed the clear plastic tubing for the water to go to the test tubes, nor have we ascertained where we will be placing the test tubes. In addition, one of the pieces that siphons off the water to the test tubes must be fixed because the end has broken off.

Group 2 Day 5


We continued with the previous group's design. All we needed to do was build a support the the structure we would put water through.  Another task we had to complete was how to support that structure that would lead the water into test tubes.

Group 3 Day 1

Our goal, was to design a water system that will be able sample water as it is being tested for different chemicals. As the water is running throughout the tubes, they need to collect samples as they go. There also needs to be a pipe where all the clean water goes to, and another tube where all the contaminated water to flow.  We designed a water system with multiple switches, that way we will be able to control the flow of the water. We also cut up the soda bottles in order to make a container to hold the water as it flows throughout the pipes. There are a lot of things that need to be done, including building a support structure for water system, drill more holes into pvc pipes for test tubes, and align system at an angles so water will flow all the way to the bottom.