We researched a lot before we came to our final idea. We wanted to do something that related to water. Our first idea was to create a sensor that would identify if the water measured was clean. This didn’t help us though because there was not a specific solution to improving the use of water, but rather by just analyzing it. We then had a second idea, which was the P-Trap, which would unclog the pipes in household sinks. We realized that this was already a product. Our third idea was to use old metals to create “new water” from old water by using a more complex series of resistors. We realized that this wasn’t efficient due to recurring problems.
While looking for ideas, we heard that two FSA staff members had a water heater problem, it sparked an idea for our project. Their water heater had stopped working so they had to replace the heater. We requested him to bring his heater to school so we could find out why the heater did not function. We decided to ask our teacher, Mr. Kaya to cut the heater open so we could see the problem. When we looked inside, we noticed how the magnesium rod and shrunk in size, broke off, and rusted. We saw how metals in the water had attacked the first barrier and caused cracks. The water heater has started leaking from the bottom due to a large metal crack. We realized that eventually the heater could leak many gallons of water, which can lead to several problems.
We discovered that there was rust inside the heater. The inside of the heater has a protective layer which had started to rust. If the heater was not replaced, the entire inside layer would be coated with rust and you would be showering with bad water that was not filtered. Most people have the same water that leads everywhere into the house and if rust gets in the water, then it will lead into your showers and drinking water.
Anode Rod Problems
We wanted to know more about rust before we modified the rod. The picture on the right shows what an eroded anode rod looks like when you don't replace it. The first problem you can expect to encounter with a bad anode rod is the rusting of your water heater. If your water heater rusts you will most likely need to replace it, which will cost you much more than replacing an anode rod. Another problem you may encounter is having the anode rod break off and fall to the bottom of your water heater. The broken off rod will bounce around in the water heater anytime water passes through it, which will destroy the lining of the water heater very quickly. This creates cracks in the glass lining of the water heater which will drastically shorten your water heater's life. There is no question, failure to replace your anode rods in a timely fashion, will shorten your water heater's life.
What the Rod is Made Of
When the tank is filled with water, the rod corrodes away to protect the exposed steel of the water heater. This process is called electrolysis, which is the chemical decomposition produced by passing an electric current through a liquid or solution containing ions. The anode rod is a safety precaution.After a while the rust will have corroded the entire rod. The rod is usually 51 inches. Anode rods tend to cause a repulsive smell due to sulfuric reactions with the sacrificial magnesium/aluminum rods. It creates hydrogen sulfide gas which makes a distinctive smell that usually means your rod has been corroded.
Why Use An Anode Rod?
The reason we put anodes rods in our water heaters is so that the rust attacks the magnesium rod, which is more corrosive than the steel tank. The rust attacks the sacrificial rod, and expands the heater’s life nearly indefinitely, as long as you change the rod.
We cut open the water heater and saw how much rust was formed inside the water heater. So we decided to look on how rust was formed. Rust is a reaction from oxygen and iron in the presence of water/air moisture. Rust can be very destructive when not attended to. It leads to leaks in your water heater and destroys the internal surface. Once a anode rods is used up, the rust targets the next metal to corrode. Rust tends to target the metal that is easiest to corrode. That is why most anode rods are made of aluminum, zinc , and magnesium. The harder your water is, the more of a sediment build up your water heater will have and eventually, the more of rust you will have. Once sediment builds up at the bottom of your water heater, It can lead to more problems than just rust. Your water heater can waster gas, deteriorates your tank, and ceases to produce enough heat for bacteria to stop surviving.
When cold water comes into the water heater, two components to start corrosion come into play: oxygen and water. The purpose of the magnesium anode rod is to draw away oxygen from the main steel tank, which is why it is called a sacrificial anode rod. The oxygen reacts with the rod, and slowly eats away at it. Once the anode rod has completely eroded, the oxygen is free to attack the steel tank, and starting corrosion.Through researching corrosion and anode rods, we developed our idea. (pick up rust) In this case, after the anode rod eroded, two inches of rust built up. We wanted a system that would warn the client to replace the anode rod when the rod is unable to protect the tank from corrosion.
Research about water heaters:
Research about magnesium rods:
“Replacing Anodes, Getting Rid of Odor.” Water Technology Online, 15 July 2015, www.watertechonline.com/replacing-anodes-getting-rid-of-odor/.
“What Does a Water Heater Anode Rod Do?” Angie's List | Join for FREE to See 10 Million Verified Reviews, 14 June 2016, www.angieslist.com/articles/what-does-water-heater-anode-rod-do.htm.
the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine. “Extend the Life of Your Water Heater by Replacing the Anode Rod.” Family Handyman, www.familyhandyman.com/plumbing/water-heater/extend-the-life-of-your-water-heater-by-replacing-the-anode-rod/view-all/.
“Water Heaters Information.” Water Heaters Information | Engineering360, www.globalspec.com/learnmore/manufacturing_process_equipment/industrial_heaters_heating_elements/water_heater
We researched about the parts of water heater to expand our knowledge about it. The basic parts of a water are simple, you have the cold and hot water pipes and the gas furnace.The right pipe is where the cold water comes in, left is where the hot water comes in, and the middle is natural gas furnace. 60% of people use natural gas water heaters and of 40% of people use electric water heaters.
Anode Rod : When the tank is filled with water the anode rod sacrifices itself to protect the exposed steel of the water heater, through a method called electrolysis.
Pipes : One pipe is where the cold water comes out, the other is where the hot water comes out.
Natural Gas Furnace : While furnaces carry heat in warm air, boiler systems distribute the heat in hot water, which gives up heat as it passes through radiators or other devices in rooms throughout the house
Dip Tube : The dip tube is a plastic pipe that travels from the cold water inlet down to the bottom of the tank. The purpose of the dip tube is to deposit the cold water coming in to the tank at the bottom, where it is heated.
Project : Our idea is to install a sensor which alerts us when the rod runs out magnesium and begins to rust. The sensor will include a green light to to indicate when the system is up and running. The speaker will emit a sound similar to smoke detectors when their battery is low. The water heater will then be safe from rust and potential cracks in the first barrier. We decided to use a battery instead of a power outlet because many people may not have a power outlet near their water heater. The batteries we plan to use are 9 volt batteries.
Our first prototype was tested by using a 100kohm resistor, a LED light, a 9 volt battery,water, wires, and a breadboard. We used a resistor to adjust the electric power for the LED lights because they weren’t compatible with 9 volts. When you put the probes in the water, the LED light would turn on.When you remove the wires, there isn’t a current, which leads to the LED light not turning on. Using a LED light wasn’t enough for alerting our client so we tried using a buzzer. The buzzer didn’t work due to the current not being strong enough. The probes couldn’t pass enough electric power to make the buzzer work.
Our second prototype, we decided to use the Integrated Development Environment (IDE) and it consisted of a buzzer and a LED light to increase the alertness for our client. This was created by using the Arduino board and programming software. When the sensor is placed in the water, the LED light lights up and the buzzer makes a sound. We first assigned the analog signal cable to the A0 pin so it could transport the data from the sensor. Then we wrote an “if statement”, which stated that “If the data value is less than 500, the sensor it wet and the buzzer rings. If it is above 500, the sensor is dry.” The program executes this code every five minutes for this prototype. This prototype was working fine but the battery life for the arduino would not last more than one year with one 9 volt battery.
This protoype was more of a test prototype. This will be very similar to our last prototype but on a smaller board. We wanted to experiment with a bigger board before moving onto a smaller board. We downloaded this diagram from the internet to guide us on where to put wires and resistors.
We decided to drill the magnesium rod about 12 inches in. We used garlic sauce so the drill would go in easier. It was hard because if the drill bit broke while it was inside the rod, then the drill bit would have got stuck inside. After we drill a hole on top so we could see the drill that we earlier.
Our final prototype uses a NE-555-P timer microcontroller along with a combination of resistors and wires to transfer currents throughout the board in order to supply the buzzer with the compatible amount current and voltage once the probes touch the water. Our prototype was successful. We have added a power switch and a led light indication in order to make it safe for the user and to make sure that we are using the battery life properly. We put indicator lights so our client will be able to see if the system is off or on.
All regular water heater have an sacrificial anode rod and they provide clean water to our showers, sinks, and taps. We drilled 18 inches into our product’s anode rod to pass two wires through. When the magnesium corrodes to a certain point, the wires will connect with current and alert the system. Our project won't work without the two wires through the anode rod which is a minor price in our modification in comparison to the overall cost of a water heater.
When we began with our project, we were hoping to find a cost efficient, affordable, and functional idea to fix the outrageous costs that follow with water heater damage. We had experienced trial and error many times throughout our journey. In the end we ended up with out final prototype we have today. It is a arduino based program that detects when water has reached a certain point into a anode rod and alerts the system. We have equipped our model with a 3d printed box and magnets for a clean look that conveniently stays on the water heater. We are very proud of this model because it has showed us a 100% accuracy rate that never fails to work flawlessly.
We had the the chance to talk to a professional about our project. We had a few questions about chemistry so we facetimed Dr. Akdeniz, an assistant professor of chemistry from Dalton State. We talked about the functions of our water heater and how oxygen is trapped in the tank. He gave us feedback on our project and asked some questions regarding the buzzer. His information was very useful and we used his feedback to further improve our knowledge and our project. We also had the chance to talk Mr.Aliyev. He is a facility manager at school and is a certified plumber. He has dealt with many water heaters and was fascinated on how our project worked. We presented to Charlie Simons, an industrial engineer at East West design and manufacturing Company. He agreed that our product will keep water heaters leak free, rust free, and will lowers gas bill costs due to eliminating the built up rust at the bottom of the tank, which wastes so much natural gas.
Cost of Water Heater and Installment
$1000.00 - $1500.00
Cost of Our Sensor:
3D Printed Box
Our sensor is a great tool for saving money when concerning with water heaters.To install a water, the cost typically ranges from $731 to $1,331, depending on location, type of water heater, and type of heat source. Instead of having to pay $1,026 for repairs, this can be preventable by investing just $25 for a sensor. This product is extremely cheap, costing only $8 for the sensor. In the future, we could mass produce this product for extremely little, due to the materials being molded plastic, and extremely cheap electric parts.
We decided to make an animation, to show how rust is formed. First the animation will show a basic experiment, that will include two test tubes. Both test tubes will have a nail inside. One test tube is exposed to only water and no oxygen because there is oil on top. The other test tube will have only water but is exposed to oxygen. Rust will be formed in only the test tube that is exposed to water and oxygen. The next part of the animation is the water heater. We are going show how the rust is being formed inside the water heater. Lastly, we explained the rust formula and which components were making up the rust.