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Whiz kid develops heat exchange unit

Whiz kid develops heat exchange unit

Developing an energy-saving heat exchange unit to extract waste heat from shower effluent has earned engineering whiz kid Haydn Luckman, from The University of Auckland, a Gold CREST award.

Haydn, a second-year student at the Faculty of Engineering was presented with his Gold CREST Award by Dr Helen Anderson, Chief Executive of the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology.

CREST means Creativity in Science and Technology and is a national awards programme, run by the Royal Society of New Zealand to celebrate promising young New Zealanders.

The Epsom resident spent two years developing his award-winning heat exchange unit. It works by "recycling" the heat content of warm shower wastewater to preheat the incoming cold water.

"Basically, it is a heat exchanger that heats the cold water by cooling the wastewater as both water streams run past each other. By using the otherwise wasted energy, the average consumer could expect around five kilowatts of energy to be recovered. This is the equivalent of having five electric kettles running at once," says Haydn.

For shower usage of one hour per day (and Auckland electricity prices) the heat exchange unit could help save around $200 a year.

Haydn, who is also studying commerce, says based on a retail price of about $500, the unit will provide a 40 percent return per annum.

"This type of investment is hard to come by these days!"

Where shower usage is greater, like in hospitals and motor camps, the return on investment would be much higher, meaning that the system could pay for itself faster.

Haydn says the idea for the unit was something that he "thought up one day".

"I had been thinking about the energy that we waste when taking showers for some time, and this is the solution that I came up with after months of designing and analysing different devices."

While the 19 year old expects the heat exchange unit to eventually be available to the public, he says it will take time as his studies, various engineering challenges, and his winter hobby as a volunteer hockey coach keep him quite busy.

"However, I know that this is a viable product and one that will definitely be seen on shelves in the future," says Haydn.

The winner of the 2002 Genesis Energy National Science and Technology Fair, Haydn attended both the Beijing Youth Science Creation Competition and the London International Youth Science Forum. Last year, Haydn's team at University also won the Sinclair Knight Mertz (SKM) Design 1B challenge.

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