Bradford engineer Andrew Nichols is on his way to Parliament with a novel idea on how to stop sewers causing a stink.

The 25-year-old, who is a research engineer at Bradford University, is taking his invention to London on Monday in the hope it will win votes and approval of the country’s MPs, scientists and leaders of the engineering industry.

His early-warning device to pick up on problems in the sewers will be one of 180 inventions being judged on the day by a panel – he was selected out of hundreds of applicants countrywide.

The competition is a showcase of inventions to highlight the work of up and coming engineers and scientists in the UK.

Mr Nichols’ work has come up with a device that sends out and picks up sound signals to detect problems such as blockages in water flow.

Mr Nichols, of Skipton, said: “The great thing about this device is that it can pick up early on problems and stop flooding, sewers are a good example of where it would be used. I’ll be telling people at the London presentation that based on yearly figures from the Thames there were 81 properties in the city over the last year that had sewage coming into their homes because of blockages that weren’t picked up until it was too late.

“This device could stop a lot of homes and properties being damaged.”

At the moment devices being used in the industry have to be placed in the water which means a lot of cleaning work and increased maintenance costs but Mr Nichols said the beauty of his invention is that it would work from above the water surface.

He said: “By using these sound signals we tell a lot from the shape of the surface water – which way it’s flowing, how deep it is, if there’s any obstructions.”

There are prizes to be won, with the gold medalist getting £3,000, while silver and bronze receive £2,000 and £1,000.

Andrew Miller MP, chairman of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, said: “This annual competition is an important date in the parliamentary calendar because it gives MPs an opportunity to speak to a wide range of the country’s best young researchers.”

The competition is run by the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee in collaboration with The Royal Academy of Engineering, The Institute of Physics, the Society of Biology, The Royal Society of Chemistry, the Physiological Society, the Welcome Trust and the Society of Chemical Industry.