Interview with Joanna Power and Paramveer Bhachu, Winners of University Innovation Competition: Red Bull Basement 2020

We met whilst studying Product Design Engineering at Brunel University in 2017, and found out that we both come from the same area! We then came up with the idea for the Aqua X in March 2020. The Lava Aqua X is a portable, electric washing machine that is not only environmentally-friendly by reusing water to wash clothes, but is also a cost, space and time-effective solution for students.

We worked out that if every student in London (around 249,000) used the Aqua X for washing laundry, we would save 1.7 billion litres of water, the equivalent of 700 Olympic-sized swimming pools. We knew that providing a solution for water waste is also a cheaper alternative to the existing options was something that we couldn’t ignore.

The Aqua X has a removable water tank that can be placed as a mat in the shower, storing up to 8 litres of water which is then filtered once reattached to the main unit. The filtered water is then used to wash up to 2.5kg of clothes in 12 minutes, due to the efficient spherical drum.

Lava Aqua X: a genius water-saving washing machine

How did you come up with the idea for the Aqua X?


At the beginning of lockdown, we saw a brief on a website about how students can reduce the amount of water they can waste. With our combined experience in product and graphic design, we thought we could do better. Although we know that other students, like us, are concerned with reversing the effects of climate change and saving resources such as water, in reality it’s easy to make excuses, when showering for example, if you don’t pay the water bills as it doesn’t directly affect you. In first year, I remembered how much of a pain washing clothes was when machines weren’t available, it was expensive and an effort carrying washing to and from the laundrette.

So we came up with the idea for a portable electric washing machine, which makes doing laundry easier (only 12 minute cycles that can be done in your bedroom), cheaper (one-off minimal cost vs yearly spending at the laundrette) and is importantly environmentally-friendly by reusing water collected from your shower to wash the clothes.



What inspired you to apply for Red Bull Basement?


Joanna is a member of the Brunel University Entrepreneurs Society, which encourages students to take their innovative ideas and enter competitions and first heard of Red Bull Basement from there.

Since working with Red Bull Basement’s mentors that have been available to us, we’ve been able to access resources and expertise that we would have struggled to locate on our own. After we were chosen as the representatives for the UK, we had five weeks to bring our product to life and Red Bull Basement were able to provide the mentoring, workspace and other resources that helped us win at the global workshop. We found the mentoring sessions in self-leadership, building confidence among others helpful in our plans to build our business. One of the first things we received was a 3D printer, which we had running non-stop to build our model. They also helped us to protect our intellectual property, design rights and trademarks.


What can we hope to see from Lava in the future?


Our main focus right now is getting the Aqua X on the market. Currently, we’re looking for funds to put together the final working prototype, then finish the design for manufacture and get our first batch made. So far we’ve created cardboard, CAD and look-like models, so we’re keen to get a real version worked up.