2021 ChemE Cube Competition Launches: Students to Design Modular On-Demand Water Purification Mini-Plants

Presented by the RAPID Manufacturing Institute™, ChemE Cube™ is an annual student competition in which undergraduate university teams design, build, and demonstrate the capabilities of a one-cubic-foot modular plant. 

Small but mighty

Limited access to clean water remains a global issue in developing countries and in disaster areas. This year, to pilot the ChemE Cube program, six university teams are tasked with creating a modular, on-demand surface water treatment mini-plant that can purify at least 25 liters of surface water per day while meeting relevant drinking water standards. Crucially, the cubes must be able to be built and deployed as part of a humanitarian effort or built using artisanal factories as part of an enterprise solution to poverty.

Students will develop their cubes throughout the year with guidance from faculty and the RAPID team. The teams will then compete on cube performance via a head-to-head duel and promote their technology through a three-minute ad, a poster, and a 20-minute “shark tank” style pitch to a panel of mock investors/judges on November 8, 2021, at the 2021 AIChE Annual Student Conference in Boston, MA.

The takeaways

The ChemE Cube Competition is infused with the core values of teamwork, creativity and innovation, sustainable development, and diversity and inclusion. The competition challenges students to:

  • Solve real-world problems by designing a process using creative chemical engineering solutions. 
  • Demonstrate the ability to safely build and operate a complete chemical process (i.e., reaction and/or separation) at a small scale using advanced manufacturing and intensified processing technology. 
  • Calculate and clearly communicate the ways in which industry could “number up” the process to meet required product demand.

The six teams piloting the competition include students and faculty advisors from Oregon State University, North Carolina State University, the University of Delaware, Carnegie Mellon University, Missouri University of Science and Technology, and the University of Pittsburgh.

Next year the competition, with a new theme, will open to all universities. 

Stay tuned for updates from our participants! #ChemECube

Get involved

Students interested in participating in the 2021–2022 season can sign up here

Professionals interested in volunteering can contact ChemECube@aiche.org. For more information, visit www.aiche.org/chemecube.