The Biodiesel Motorbike: Demonstrating the Social Responsibility of Teaching Sustainable Engineering

Dr Colin David Kestell
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For generations now fossil fuels have powered the world, but are (arguably) killing it in the process. This paper strives to extol the virtues of sustainable fuel alternatives and sets out to present ways in which we can (and should) excite the next generation of young engineers to implement these alternatives. However, the simple act of writing this paper sends more pollutants into our atmosphere. While we increasingly become more environmentally conscious, our normal day to day tasks all continue to contribute to pollution in some way. We remain heavily reliant and comfortable with the current affordable and efficient methods of power generation. In fact, alternative fuel research only generally attracts media coverage when the rising price of fuel threatens our comfort level. For alternative fuels to become mainstream they must therefore be far more than a second rate safety net to existing fuels, but must also excite us in their potential to offer a similar price and performance to existing fuels. Only when we are left with nothing will lesser performing and more expensive alternatives become attractive. The alternatives need to capture the imagination of our next generation of engineers so that they can soon turn such concepts into a reality.
This paper will therefore present a summary of sustainable alternative fuels in which biodiesel will be shown to be a genuine solution to part of problem. Towards demonstrating a method in which young engineers can be excited by alternative fuels the paper will continue by describing a practical problem based learning exercise in which a group of young engineering students design and build a biodiesel motorbike that will be ridden from Darwin to Adelaide.

Keywords: Sustainable Engineering, Social Responsibility
Stream: Technology and Applied Sciences
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Biodiesel Motorbike, The

Dr Colin David Kestell

Senior Lecturer, The School of Mechanical Engineering, The University of Adelaide
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

Colin was born in the UK and completed an apprenticeship at British Aerospace (Hatfield, UK) and a degree at Coventry University. At BAe he vibration tested missiles and analysed data from telemetry flights. He then worked for Marconi Space Systems (Portsmouth, UK) subjecting satellite sub assemblies to vibration, shock and thermal vacuum (space simulation) tests. After moving to Australia, he managed the vibration test lab at ADI (St. Marys) and became a chartered engineer. Another move brought him to the University of Adelaide, where he successfully completed his PhD in acoustics. He is married to Diane and has three children; Garreth, Glenn and Beth and lives near the coast, south of Adelaide. Colin is now a Senior Lecturer at University of Adelaide where he coordinates Automotive Engineering teaching and research. He also has other research interests that include Computer Aided Engineering, Engineering Design and BioDiesel applications. His teaching responsibilities include: Level I Design Graphics, Level III Design and Level IV Advanced Computer Aided Engineering (using CATIA and UGNX3). He is also the first year course advisor, first year co-ordinator, he chairs a teaching curriculum committee and supervises large numbers of final year students in their fourth year projects. One such project is the Formula SAE car in which students design build and race a small race car and another is the design and manufacture of a CO2 neutral "BioBike". This is motorbike will be specifically designed to run on Canola (or mustard seed) derived Biodiesel and serves to impress upon students the importance of sustainable engineering practices.

Ref: I06P0250