Alternative fuels vehicles to spark interest

Mechanical Engineering student Heath McBain on the biodiesel motorbike

Mechanical Engineering student Heath McBain on the biodiesel motorbike
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Student design of the bio-oil motor trike

Student design of the bio-oil motor trike
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Students Beinjy Lim, Boon Yao Hong, Joshua Chia and Chin Hooi Lee will display their project, the <a href=''>RoboFiddler</a>

Students Beinjy Lim, Boon Yao Hong, Joshua Chia and Chin Hooi Lee will display their project, the RoboFiddler
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Tuesday, 24 October 2006

Robot spiders, biodiesel motorbikes, hypersonic jets, and a human cough detector - these are among the dozens of amazing projects that some of the University of Adelaide's brightest young minds will put on display to the public this week.

The annual Mechanical Engineering Project Exhibition will be held at the University of Adelaide on Friday 27 October, giving final-year students the chance to display their hard work, technical expertise and creativity to a wide audience.

Many of these projects have industry and government sponsors.

"The exhibition is a showcase of talent that provides final-year students with direct contact with industry, resulting in valuable experience and future contacts as well as giving industry and the general public an insight into what our graduates are capable of," says the Head of the School of Mechanical Engineering, Professor Colin Hansen.

"Many employers have commented that they see the involvement with the industry-sponsored projects as equivalent to many months of work experience. This gives the students an additional advantage when entering the graduate employment market," he says.

This year, many student projects have addressed the issue of increases in the cost of petroleum by looking at alternative and sustainable fuels for transport. These projects include:

Biodiesel Motorbike
The primary aim of this project is to create a commercially viable biodiesel motorbike to demonstrate the versatility of biodiesel compatible engines. Throughout 2007 the design will be refined so that the bike can successfully compete in the 2007 World Solar Challenge Greenfleet Class, to help demonstrate to a worldwide audience its full potential.

Bio-Oil Motor Trike
The objective of this project is to design and build a Motor Trike that can run solely on vegetable oil. The Bio-Oil Trike will be entered into the Greenfleet technology class of the World Solar Challenge in 2007, which provides a public forum to demonstrate fuel-efficient technology and low carbon fuels.

Hybrid Solar Car
The objective of this project is to promote and develop a hybrid solar car for everyday use. Labelled HELIOS (Hybrid Electric Lithium IOn Solar), the car uses solar panels, in-hub motors, mains rechargeable batteries, a skateboard chassis and multiple electrical engineering feats such as touch screens and rear vision cameras.

Some of the other fascinating projects on display include:

Equipment for Ambulance Officers
This project was motivated by a desire by the SA Ambulance Service (SAAS) to reduce the amount of manual handling required of paramedics. The project involved the design of a trolley to transport equipment currently carried by SAAS personnel, the design of a system to lift the trolley in and out of the ambulance, and a system to significantly reduce the manual handling risk involved in lifting obese patients into ambulances.

Robot Spider
In some industries, certain zones and areas consisting of high contamination and pollution or high risk are not accessible by human beings. These include the nuclear, chemical and power generation industries, and inspection and maintenance of tall buildings. The aim of this project is to design and build an autonomous spider robot prototype to access those areas.

Hypersonic Vehicle
Students in this project are researching and designing an efficient, air-breathing hypersonic "waverider" vehicle that utilises supersonic combustion ramjet (scramjet) propulsion. It involves the development of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that must be able to cruise 30km above the Earth's surface at Mach 8, with a minimum range of 1000km.

Human Cough Detector
This project aims to develop a portable device to detect coughing by recording acoustic signals and registering movement. This project is aimed at putting more science into the assessment of coughing symptoms among patients. To date, methods used to assess coughing have been primarily subjective.


WHAT: School of Mechanical Engineering Project Exhibition

WHERE: Level 4, Union Building, University of Adelaide, North Terrace Campus
(off Victoria Drive)

WHEN: 10am to 5pm this Friday, October 27

COST: FREE - open to the public


Contact Details

Mr Antoni Blazewicz
School of Mechanical Engineering
University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 3557
Mobile: 0415 384 724

Mr David Ellis
Deputy Director, Media and Corporate Relations
External Relations
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 5414
Mobile: +61 (0)421 612 762