The Biodiesel Motorbike: Demonstrating the Social Responsibility of Teaching Sustainable Engineering
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
Dr Colin David Kestell
Senior Lecturer, The School of Mechanical Engineering, The University of Adelaide