10 Rules for Hydraulics
Top Aussie Innovations
Blackwoods Albany has been transformed.
Blackwoods SmartStock - How Rio Tinto Plans to Cut Costs
Blackwoods SmartStock assists major infrastructure project partners with Onsite Store Solutions
Global Enginnering Enterprise enlists SmartStock to support Gas extraction facility construction
Blackwoods SmartStock & Jetstar: Controlling Inventory securely and efficiently with Vending
Coregas now at Blackwoods Karratha
Top 10 Tips for Starting a Small Business
Innovative program seeks to address engineering shortages
Good Looks Are Just The Beginning
Hydrogen-powered cars step up a gear in Australia

10 Rules for Hydraulics

10 Rules for Hydraulics

Hydraulics not only allow difficult tasks to be performed with relative ease, but the work can be undertaken with a degree of precision, control, and therefore safety, which cannot easily be attained with other forms of equipment.

Originally appeared in TecTorque Summer 2016

High-pressure (700 bar) hydraulic tools pack more force into a lighter and more ergonomic package for tasks such as lifting, positioning, pulling, pushing, spreading, clamping, holding, bending, straightening, forming, bolting, fabricating and maintenance. The very simplicity of such tools can, however, often lead to their abuse and it is often difficult to comprehend the tremendous forces that are generated with a minimum of input from the user.

But where the proper rules and disciples are observed, hydraulic power is also one of the safest methods of applying force – and some of the most common mistakes are the simplest to rectify, according to high-force hydraulics specialist and Blackwoods partner Enerpac.

Rule 1 – Get the basics right When working on hydraulic cylinder applications it is important to apply pressure or lift slowly, and to always regularly check the load. Anticipate possible problems and take steps to avoid them, and above all think about safety and avoid standing in the line of force.

Rule 2 – Dress for the job Always wear personal protective equipment (PPE) such as safety glasses, a hard hat, gloves, safety shoes or boots, and other protective clothing relevant to the particular site conditions. Get into the safety habit before you lay a hand on a hydraulic tool.

Rule 3 – Look first Always perform a visual inspection and identify all equipment before starting the job. Everyone needs to be aware of what tools they’re working with. This visual inspection will also allow you to determine whether there are any missing parts that will be necessary before the job begins.

Part of the visual inspection should be to check that your equipment is functional. All leaks and failures should be tagged out and it is important that a gauge is properly fitted to the system.

Rule 4 – Check your set-up Most problems encountered in a hydraulic system are the result of improper assembly or operation. Read all instructions carefully and, before you use any hydraulic equipment, be sure you know what its function is and how it works. Position the load on firm, flat ground and if possible, use a jacking base. This prevents the load from ‘kicking out’ or the reaction force punching a hole in the floor – an embarrassing and potentially expensive situation best avoided.

The two greatest enemies of hydraulics are heat and dirt. Keep oil connections clean, and use dust caps to keep dirt out. Heat above 65°C will soften packings and weaken hoses. If it is necessary to use heat, shield the cylinder with a blanket or a piece of sheet metal to deflect the heat.

Make sure you use a saddle, otherwise the plunger will mushroom. When fitting a saddle into the end of the plunger, ensure that the face of the saddle is hard up against the face of the plunger. Cylinder mounting threads should always be fitted with thread protectors, otherwise damage to the thread will weaken it and reduce its capacity to withstand the reactive force of the cylinder.

Rule 5 – Appropriate use and maintenance As well as lifting slowly and regularly checking the lift, never attempt to lift a load that exceeds the capacity of your system. Overloading damages cylinders, blows seals, and bends plungers. As a general rule of thumb, estimate the load and then double it. If 10 tons is estimated and a 10 ton cylinder is used, ‘you’ are working to generate the pressure. Instead use a 20 ton cylinder and let the ‘area’ do the work. Use a gauge to indicate safe operating loads and pressure levels. Before advancing or retracting a cylinder, make sure the area is clear.

Using products to their maximum, repeatedly, will lead to premature failure. Just as you don’t drive your car to its maximum, if you could, then build some safety into your hydraulics and follow the 80 per cent rule. Leaving 20 per cent of the plunger inside the base will give greater stability and using it at 80 per cent of rated load capacity means that pumping is not as difficult. Do not use an extension on the pump handle. The use of an extension could tip the pump forward and jam and damage your knuckles. It can also make the pump become unstable or pressurised beyond its safe limits.

Hydraulic systems are designed to use hydraulic oil only. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations, as the incorrect oil will damage the system and make it unsafe to use. Just like a car, it needs to be changed in order to ensure the oil is in good condition.

When you are finished, release the pressure gently. Releasing the pressure in a system suddenly will cause the needle to snap back – throwing the gauge out of calibration. Use a snubber valve to prevent this happening. The snubber valve will also dampen out any pressure fluctuations thus giving a more accurate, easy to read pressure or force indication. Before storing hydraulic equipment, make sure it has been properly cleaned and lubricated where necessary. This will ensure its longevity and efficient functioning over the long term.

Rule 6 – Right tool for the right job There is no shortage of hydraulic equipment available so it is important to seek expert guidance on which products best suit the task at hand, and the safest way to operate them. For example, time-consuming, labour-intensive manual tasks such as bolt tightening can be performed with ease using a torque wrench. Torque wrenches are some of the safest and most reliable non-impact fastening technologies available – a whole generation ahead of methods such as flogging wrenches, for example.

However, like any powerful precision tool, they need to be operated properly and with respect for their capabilities to get the best out of them over the longest time. Pump selection is also important, as a lot of tools are actuated by hydraulic pumps. Selection of the correct type of pump is critical to the efficiency and safety of the powerful and portable hydraulic tools that are increasingly being relied upon for jobs that once involved backbreaking and hazardous manual labour.

Traditionally, users of hydraulic tools have been able to choose from three main pump power methods: hand, air, or electric. Each power source offers distinct advantages. Electric and air-powered pumps offer plenty of power, but they must be connected to an available power supply by cords or hoses.

Hand and battery-operated pumps offer flexibility and portability, but operator fatigue and battery life can restrict the size of job they can handle. Other factors, such as purchase price, running costs, anticipated service life, worker training, employee safety, type and frequency of chores, and tool duty cycle, must also be taken into consideration.

Rule 7 – Hose management The hose is one of the most delicate parts of a hydraulic pump, yet it is essential to its functioning. Always leave some slack in the hose. As hoses pressurise, they shorten and if there is no slack, the hose will pull out of the end fittings. Never place the hose directly below your load, and make sure it is well clear of other objects. Dropping heavy objects on it will lead to hose failure. Also avoid sharp bends in the hose as the pump, never by the hose and never hold the hose when it is under pressure. This would strain the hose and excessive strain will cause the braids to fracture or pull out of the crimp, causing leaks.

Rule 8 – Use genuine parts Quality hydraulic tools have been precisely engineered for optimum performance, safety, and efficiency. Although cheaper at first, using a part that has not been designed for the system could cause the whole thing to fail, which not only jeopardises the operator’s safety, but costs significantly more in replacement and damage.

Rule 9 – Use authorised repair agents Hydraulic tools need proper care and maintenance in order to function at optimum efficiency. Authorised repair agents have been fully trained in the technology in question and have the necessary qualifications and experience to service the tools. To ensure the tools remain safe, only these agents should be used for service, maintenance and repair of tools.

Rule 10 – Learn about safety Manufacturers – including Enerpac – run safety courses and training initiatives designed to keep industry professionals up-to-date with the latest safety practices. Take advantage of these courses and the opportunity to learn more about hydraulic safety.

Equally input from customers is fundamental to the design, development, production, and supply of standard and custom-made hydraulic solutions for the safe, precise control of movement and positioning of heavy loads. It’s a true knowledge partnership, and you have a part to play.

The selection of the correct size cylinder, the right pump to operate it, the right choice of accessory equipment, together with the careful observance of some simple safety rules, and you will add the value of safety to the power and convenience of high pressure tools.

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Top Aussie Innovations

Top Aussie Innovations

Ask the average person to name an Australian invention and two answers are frequently cited; the Hills Hoist and the wine cask.

Article first appeared in TecTorque Summer 2016.

It is a predictably ‘Australian’ response. These iconic, yet functional, and everyday items are found in practically every home and appeal in equal measures to our love of the outdoors, our fondness of a drink, and an unwillingness to take ourselves too seriously.

However to encapsulate Australian innovation with a washing line and a box of grog is akin to telling a first time visitor to our country to not bother with the Great Barrier Reef or the Sydney Opera House, but to head straight for the Big Pineapple instead.

How Australia ranks Earlier this year Bloomberg released its 2015 Global Innovation Index, ranking the world’s 50 most innovative countries.

Australia ranked 13th overall in the index, with South Korea taking top spot ahead of Japan and Germany, with Australia’s traditional benchmark nations of the United States and the United Kingdom coming in sixth and tenth respectively.

To that end, here then is a guide to some of Australia’s greatest inventions, and the generally less well known people that brought them to life.


Okay, so it may not have borne a great resemblance to the domestic refrigerators we see today, and he may have been an ex-pat Scot, but Geelong-based James Harrison did achieve a first with his 1856 patent for a practical vapour compression refrigeration system using ether, alcohol or ammonia.

Harrison’s system used a compressor to force the refrigeration gas to pass through a condenser, where it cooled down and liquefied. The liquefied gas then circulated through the refrigeration coils and vaporised again, cooling down the surrounding system.

His technology was initially adopted by brewers and meat packers, and by 1861, a dozen of his systems were in operation. While a German later improved the method of liquefying gases in 1876, and it wasn’t until 1913 that refrigerators for home use were developed in the United States, Harrison can nonetheless claim have pioneered the idea.

Electric Drill

Like James Harrison, Arthur James Arnot was another Scot whose notoriety came only once he had emigrated to Australia.

Arnot, an electrical engineer, alongside William Blanch Brain, patented the electrical drill in Melbourne in 1889. Arnot’s electric drill was specifically designed to drill rock and coal, and was consequently very large and by no means portable, but it was without question one of the world’s first power tools.

It also wasn’t Arnot’s only contribution to Australia, he came up with the idea while designing Melbourne’s Spencer Street power station and installing the city’s first electric street lighting system. Again it was the Germans who took the idea and improved it, developing the first portable hand-held drill in 1895, before US company Black & Decker introduced the first relative of today’s electric pistol grip trigger switch drill in 1917.

The Tank

The first born and bred Australian to make our list was South Australian civil engineer, Lancelot de Mole. While some credit Leonardo da Vinci with the original design of an armoured fighting vehicle in the 15th century, it was little more than a fantasy.

In 1912, two years prior to the outbreak of World War 1, de Mole submitted a design for a tracked armoured vehicle to the British War Office. A year later he received notification that his idea had been rejected, but undeterred he made at least two further proposals in 1914 and 1916. For reasons unclear, de Mole’s idea never saw the light of day, eventually being overtaken by British designs for a Mark 1 tank as part of the war effort in 1916.

When the British designed tank was eventually deployed de Mole asked that he be recognised as the inventor, and remunerated for it. It took a further three years, but in 1919 a Royal Commission did acknowledge de Mole’s design, and while they shied away from accepting his claim as the inventor, nonetheless awarded him a cash payment of 987 pounds.

Cardiac Pacemaker

In 1926 yet another British ex-pat, Dr Mark Lidwill of the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney, devised a portable mainspowered apparatus that is widely accepted as the predecessor of today’s externally programmable and internally implantable artificial pacemakers. The device plugged into a light socket and consisted of two ‘poles’ – one applied to a skin pad soaked in a salt solution, the other a needle inserted into the heart – and could deliver a variable heart rate of between 80 and 120 pulses per minute.

It worked, and paved the way for the life-saving technology that according to the American Heart Association is implanted into into 600,000 cardiac patients annually and relied upon by more than three million people around the world.

‘Black Box’ Flight Recorder

As with pretty much every successful invention, the so-called ‘Black Box’ flight recorder has a somewhat disputed provenance, with several legitimate claims to invention. However it was an Australian scientist and engineer, David Warren, who first conceived of a device that would record not only the readings of an aircraft’s instruments, but also voices from the cockpit.

Warren’s father died in an air crash over the Bass Strait in 1934, and presumably with this as his inspiration, he published a report in 1954 entitled A Device for Assisting Investigation into Aircraft Accidents, followed by a working black box prototype in 1957.

Warren never patented his idea, but is still widely considered to be the inventor of the device that today is fitted in many commercial aircraft and is manufactured to withstand temperatures of up to 1100° C, submersion in water for 30 days, and pressure of up to 5000 psi. Modern black boxes are also no longer black, but rather orange, to assist in their recovery from a crash site.


They can’t lay claim to having discovered ultrasound, nor indeed for its first technological application (which was for attempting to locate the whereabouts of submarines in 1917), but when it comes to medical ultrasonic imaging Australians George Kossoff and David Robinson were genuine pioneers.

In 1969, working at what today is the CSIRO, Kossoff and Robinson made a technical breakthrough that enabled them to produce images of much greater clarity and detail than had previously been possible.

Called grey scale imaging, the technology could distinguish fine differences in echoes and convert them monitor. It led to the ultrasound – rather than x-ray- to check the health of a foetus during pregnancy.

Following further innovation processing, image recording and transducer resolution, grey scale imaging was introduced into abdominal, breast, and eye ultrasound machines the following year, before the release of the first commercially available hand-held contact scanner in 1974.

Polymer Banknote

Unpopular with many for their inability to fold and unfold properly, their size, and generally otherwise not being the paper version we fondly remember, the polymer banknote is nonetheless another Australian invention.

Credited not to an individual, but rather a collaboration between the Reserve Bank of Australia and the CSIRO, the world’s first polymer banknote was released in 1988 to commemorate Australia’s bicentenary.

Development actually began 20 years prior in 1968 as a response to increasingly sophisticated and available printing technologies making counterfeiting more prevalent, leading to the biaxially oriented polypropylene (BOPP) currency in universal circulation today.

Banknotes made from BOPP are harder to tear, resistant to folding, waterproof, recyclable, and include security features that are difficult for counterfeiters to replicate such as transparent windows and diffraction grating.

Despite a less than enthusiastic reception from the public, Australia became the first country with a full set of circulating polymer banknotes in 1996, and as of 2014, at least seven other countries have followed suit by converting fully to polymer banknotes.


Today Wi-Fi signals are broadcast everywhere. In your home, office, gyms, shopping centres, and cafes, Wi-Fi allows our array of mobile devices to remain connected while we go about our increasingly mobile lifestyles.

Twenty years ago connecting to a computer network wirelessly simply wasn’t practical or possible, but Australian Dr John O’Sullivan working in the CSIRO at the time changed all that. O’Sullivan, as it happened, was working on an entirely unrelated research project to detect exploding mini black holes, but while that project was not a success, it did provide him with experience in interpreting and managing the behaviour of radio waves in different environments.

O’Sullivan and his team instead turned their minds to problem of transmitting and receiving a wireless data signal at high speeds within an indoor environment, and ultimately came up with a solution to ‘unsmear’ the signal that in turn led to the development of the wireless LAN, and laid the groundwork for the reliable, high speed wireless networks we enjoy today.

And of course Australia’s history of invention and innovation doesn’t end there. In addition to the much loved Hills Hoist and wine cask, Australia has given the world the Cochlear implant, the torpedo, zinc cream, the surf life-saving reel, and of course Australian Rules Football, amongst countless others. The next chapter of Australia’s history of innovation awaits

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Blackwoods Albany has been transformed.

Blackwoods Albany has been transformed.

Check out the new look Blackwoods Albany

Blackwoods Albany has been transformed. Check out our new look, our new range and our new lower prices. With a large display of JBS, Sidchrome, Bosch, Hitachi, Nitto, Cigweld, Bolle, uvex, Workhorse and King Gee clothing – why would you want to shop anywhere else? Come and talk to the friendly staff and see for yourself the fantastic new products now on show. Also, keep an eye out for upcoming specials along with supplier demonstration days. Blackwoods Albany, 194 Albany Highway, Albany WA 6330.

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Blackwoods SmartStock - How Rio Tinto Plans to Cut Costs

Vending machines have become the recent feature of Rio Tinto’s boss Andrew Harding’s cost cutting drive.

Previously, safety gloves and equipment were being left in boxes for workers to take and there was no way to monitor use. Now, the equipment is being place in vending machines that require staff to use their access card to withdraw them. The initiative has cut use of safety equipment by 15 per cent to 20 per cent at some iron ore sites, and almost halved usage of some items at others.

Read full article here: Source: WA Today

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Blackwoods SmartStock assists major infrastructure project partners with Onsite Store Solutions

Blackwoods SmartStock assists major infrastructure project partners with Onsite Store Solutions

As part of securing the future of Brisbane’s growing economic hub, there was a need to upgrade the key road corridor servicing the Port of Brisbane, the Port of Brisbane Motorway and associated infrastructure. BMD, Seymour Whyte Joint Venture team was awarded the contract, and Blackwoods SmartStock was right there to assist throughout the construction.

To ensure construction was not halted and the project was delivered on time, it was critical that all supplies required to facilitate work were available immediately onsite when required. Existing methods of sourcing consumable supplies was seen to be inefficient, unreliable and costly to manage.

SmartStock provided a lean, flexible and reliable onsite store solution that reduced capital outlay, controlled spend, reduced administration costs and removed end of project obsolescence.

The facility included a semi-permanent facility supported by mobile warehouses for bulk storage. The store was managed by experienced Blackwoods SmartStock site facilitators on a full time basis throughout the term of the project.

The integration of an automated replenishment and stock forecasting system, daily deliveries from the distribution centre and a dedicated project vehicle ensured the stock profile was replenished seamlessly with no disruptions to the project and goods were available at all times when needed. An incredible 150 vendors and 2500 individual parts were sourced by Blackwoods SmartStock to support demands during the project period.

Through a positive collaborative effort and transfer of knowledge, the Blackwoods SmartStock onsite facilitators, procurement and construction teams were able to provide a complete procurement, supply and logistics solution. The key result was efficient supply performance and significant financial savings.

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Global Enginnering Enterprise enlists SmartStock to support Gas extraction facility construction

Global Enginnering Enterprise enlists SmartStock to support Gas extraction facility construction

Blackwoods SmartStock is no stranger to assisting customers in extreme situations. Works to construct a gas extraction facility at Condabri, five hours northwest of Brisbane, meant limited access to essential workplace supplies.

Craig Bradford, National Manager Business Services said… “The challenge for our customer was to build a facility in a tight time frame…two years to be precise. We setup an onsite store, mobile warehousing and managed it with our experienced staff.”

“Inventory included tools, Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) even basic cleaning consumables. Also if any specialty tools were required at a moments notice, we sourced the items in time so as to not delay construction. We accurately processed orders and detailed customer reports onsite.”

“It is a great example how Blackwoods SmartStock allowed the customer to focus on their core strength. The customer received cost savings through having the right product range, reduced stock holdings and obsolescence.”

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Blackwoods SmartStock & Jetstar: Controlling Inventory securely and efficiently with Vending

JetStar is one customer that has benefited from vending Maintenance Repair Operation supplies, PPE and general spare parts required onsite.

Ben Knabe, Light Maintenance Manager explains… “The vending system enables us to offer the free issue of all our PPE items, including safety glasses and gloves, plus our regular high use items, such as batteries and tape, to all our staff.”

Craig Bradford, National Manager Business Services said… “JetStar is a great example of how technology has proven valuable within a busy maintenance environment such as Tullamarine Airport. They’ve achieved significant cost savings, increased accuracy and greater security. In fact it’s created a positive influence with employees with regard to access and correct use of products.”

“We are constantly looking towards technology to developing new services, to assist customers. We have certainly made a positive impact thus far and now look forward continuing this under the new Blackwoods SmartStock banner.”

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Coregas now at Blackwoods Karratha

Coregas now at Blackwoods Karratha

Get into Blackwoods Karratha for all your gas supplies.

Karratha is world renowned for its reserves of gas. But did you know, you can now get all your gas supply needs from Blackwoods ? That’s right. Blackwoods Karratha now have gas – and plenty of it too! So for all your oxygen, acetylene, helium, LPG and other specialty gases – drop into Blackwoods Karratha, Lot 2539 Seabrook Crescent, Karratha WA 6714.

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Top 10 Tips for Starting a Small Business

Top 10 Tips for Starting a Small Business

For people thinking of starting, or buying into a small business, Anne Nalder, Founder of Small Business Association of Australia suggests they read the following, but also remember that all big businesses started out as a small business.

Written by Alan Johnson for TecTorque Winter 2015.

1. The business owner must have a vision. If you do not have a vision, you are like a captain of a ship that does not know where it is going.

2. Be passionate about your business, love, enjoy and inspire in others what you are doing. If you are not, how can you expect others to follow you or do business with you?

3. Make sure you have a business plan, and once completed, do not merely file it away but keep revisiting it every so often as this allows you to track your performance and finances and adjust the plan if necessary.

4. Take pride in how you run your small business. Aim for the highest standards possible that include sharing your standards and vision with staff.

5. Education and information on the latest trends is paramount. Rather than do lengthy courses that may be old hat by the time you have finished, pick and select short modules suited to your needs and requirements.

6. Start to invest and pay attention to your website. A website is absolutely necessary, however surveys show that at the least half of all websites in Australia are not doing their job for their owner. A website is the window to your shop and it must be attractive and inviting to attract customers. Also there is a clear lack of understanding of how to benefit and obtain customers from online shopping. Websites must also now be mobile phone compatible for website downloading otherwise Google will now downgrade that website.

7. Ensure that you are familiar with all compliance and regulation related to your industry. You can have the best sales and incoming revenue but if you neglect your legal obligations, and found to be in breach and fined, this alone could destroy your small business. Whilst we may not agree or like the rules, whilst they are there, we have to comply with them.

8. Due to IT, the rules of marketing have changed and it is not so much as big business driving out small business but rather savvy new small businesses the single biggest threat to existing SMBs. Existing small business owners need to find their niche in the market and keep abreast of the latest trends.

9. The single biggest advantage a small business is closely nurturing customer service and nurturing customer relationships. Unfortunately we do not practice this well in Australia.

10. As a small business owner, the most valuable IP a business has is its staff, therefore, look after them, train them, encourage them and your business will reap the rewards.

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Innovative program seeks to address engineering shortages

Innovative program seeks to address engineering shortages

An Australian program, which links schools with industry in a collaborative environment, is successfully engaging students in an engineering future. Dr Myers’ goal is to equip Australia children with the skills and knowledge to take on the world. Students must master 3D design and aerodynamics software to increase performance of the cars by designing and making 3D printed parts such as nose cones, winglets, spoilers and wheels.

Written by Alan Johnson for TecTorque Winter 2015.

Australia most successful in F1

F1 in Schools is sponsored by all of the Formula One teams. Australia is the most successful nation at the World Finals of F1 in Schools. Australian schools have won it outright a record four times. F1 in Schools is the biggest technology program in the world involving 17,000 schools in over 30 nations and more than 9,000,000 students.

Engineering Shortages

By any measure, it’s clear from the Federal Government down that Australia is not producing enough engineers to maintain our renowned high standard of living. And not only is the shortage affecting our country now, but it is about to get a lot worse. Engineers, love them or hate them, are an essential part of our everyday life; they get us to work on time, they make sure the buildings we work in stay up, plus they design the gadgets that make it easier for us to do our chores and keep us entertained.

They also make sure our houses are supplied with electricity and fresh water every day, and quietly solve all those impossibly hard problems that the rest of us don’t even know exist. They are also Australia’s great innovators. So if we are going to have a smart high-end manufacturing sector we need lots of engineers.

The problem is Australia’s workforce is ageing and the development of technical skills is not keeping pace with the retirements. We have a static rate of graduates, high dropout rates and lower and lower numbers of secondary students interested in completing the required maths and science to enter engineering. Globally, things don’t look much brighter. More than 50% of the world’s engineering graduates come from Asia and while migration assists us in the short term, the massive population and domestic economic development in India and China means we’ll find it harder to compete. Signs of the economic recovery in the US will just add to the pressure.

Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics

But it’s not all gloom and doom. One not-for-profit social enterprise, Re-Engineering Australia Foundation (REA), is working hard to overcome the problem, with objectives to encourage students to have an interest and understanding of Science Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) careers. Its slogan is ‘Not for Profit … For the Future … Committed to building a better Australia’. Dr Michael Myers OAM, founder and CEO of REA and one of Australia’s most influential engineers, says REA’s goal is to equip children with the skills and knowledge to allow them to take on the world.

He is passionate about growing and improving the innovative capacity of Australia by using our children as the catalyst.“It is imperative that we inspire, equip and guide the younger generations to be innovators, to embrace world-best technology, to expand their world view and to believe that they can make a difference,” Dr Myers said. REA’s revolutionary programs link schools, industry, TAFE, Universities and parents in a collaborative environment focused on changing the metaphor of the education process. “Our unique ‘applied learning’ technical programs, backed by extensive research, are changing the education paradigm.

“We have discovered how to excite and mentor young boys and girls so that they embrace learning and technology far beyond their years.” Dr Myers, an engineer, businessman and passionate Australian, has produced an enormous amount of in-the-field research with high school students proving that hands-on applied learning is more effective than conventional classroom teaching methods.

He has also debunked the theory that girls are not excited about careers in engineering and manufacturing. “When it comes to STEM there is plenty of rhetoric. Everyone is jumping on the band wagon but few in industry or politics truly understand what STEM education means or how you achieve the STEM outcomes this country needs.”

REA has been leading Australian industry to understand just how important STEM education is to Australia’s future for the past 17 years. In particular, it has been showing how important STEM knowledge is to the future of our children in a world of dramatic change from disruptive technologies.

“STEM is not about more maths and more science. STEM is curriculum based on the idea of educating students in four specific disciplines -Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics -in an interdisciplinary and applied approach. “Rather than teach the four disciplines as separate and discrete subjects, STEM integrates them into a cohesive learning paradigm based on real-world applications and real world problem solving. “STEM education is a dramatic paradigm shift in education creating dramatically more capable students and catalysing innovation in dramatically more enjoyable learning environments,” Dr Myers explained.

“Since we began our journey to promote STEM in 1998, we have been beating the drum for the need for more STEM skilled young people in industry with the capacity to catapult innovation. We then went a step further by implementing STEM programs in schools across Australia that make these goals a reality.”

Australia dominates

So far REA has mentored over 500,000 Australian students through these STEM activities with tremendous success. “We have taken our Australian students onto the world stage and they have proven themselves to be the best STEM students in the world.” Over the past 10 years in the largest schools-based STEM competition in the world Australian students have won it outright a record four times and finished second four times, third four times, fourth twice, fifth four times and sixth three times.

“Complete domination over the 33 other nations involved, and is testament to the capabilities of our teachers and the methodology we use.”

Growth in Engineering Students

Dr Myers said another example of the success of REA’s programs has been the impact on the number of Australian students undertaking Engineering at universities. Up until 2006 the number of Australian students choosing engineering was in significant decline. Since 2006, when REA students began leaving high school for university, the number of entrants into Engineering has been growing at a rate of 5% p.a. year on year (as reported by the Council of Engineering Deans). This growth aligns directly with REA’s cohort output.

“From designing a F1 car to designing a submarine or a renewable energy solution capable of powering the whole nation, REA’s activities are making STEM pathways enticing and appealing to young minds.

“They provide opportunities for students to experience and solve real-world problems, preparing them to solve any problem and to sell their solutions to the world.” However, Dr Myers admits the STEM journey has been very frustrating. “The methodologies that REA uses to implement STEM activities have been adopted in many countries with great success including Canada, China, France and the UK. “The only country where we struggle to be able to convince people of our capacity to make a significant change is right here in Australia. “Convincing Australian industry or Governments -State or Federal -that we already have the methodologies and teachers to implement a transition to a STEM education economy has been near impossible.”

He says issues of self-interest and the continuing disease that everything is always better when it comes from overseas continue to keep Australian education and industry in the sick bay choking on its own insecurity.” “Today we are reading about groups such as the Australian Industry Group and Business Council of Australia clarifying the importance of STEM skills. “They are 100% right in what they say. If we don’t there won’t be any bright young minds available to help them compete in the Global Village a few years from now.”

“It is time to stop looking overseas for the solution to the problem. We are already the best in the world at implementing STEM education,” Dr Myers said.

F1in Schools technology challenge

REA has pioneered a number of innovative engineering and manufacturing programs for students.

Of these, the F1 in Schools Technology Challenge, is the oldest and largest having been started in 2003 and having more than 45,000 students mentored each year with another 300,000 benefiting from the technology outcomes by making use of the 3D CAD/CAM software, simulation software, 3-axis CNC machines but not engaged in the competition itself. F1 in Schools is the biggest technology program on the planet involving 17,000 schools in over 30 nations and more than 9,000,000 students.

Its patron is Bernie Ecclestone and is sponsored by all of the Formula One teams. They donate car parts which are made into trophies. The Australian patrons are former Formula One world champion Alan Jones MBE and former McLaren Formula One Technical Director Sam Michael. Students are tasked with designing and building miniature balsa F1 cars capable of reaching 0-80kph in under 2 seconds. They are powered by a common CO2 canister. The students must master 3D design and aerodynamics software (e.g. SolidWorks, Inventor, CATIA, Virtual Wind Tunnel) and are able to increase the aerodynamics and performance of the cars by designing and making 3D printed parts such as nose cones, winglets, spoilers, wheels.

They can also reduce friction by utilising tiny precious stones from watchmakers and jewellers or high quality bearings. CNC machining centres, designed specifically for classroom use, enable students to understand the connection between design and manufacture. The machined cars are assembled and aerodynamically tested in desktop smoke and wind tunnels.

Pushing the Boundaries of Innovation

The students are encouraged to push the boundaries of innovation. This has led one Australian team to develop a world-first type of a “slippery” wheel which has attracted the attention of Formula One race engineers. Another team is using high speed photography to examine the CO2 gas cloud which led to the development of a first-of-its-kind race car body, and another to develop a tiny motion sensor located inside the car body to measure acceleration.

F1 in Schools is not just about designing and making the car. The car is the initial ‘attraction’ to the mathematical and scientific discipline of engineering and manufacturing, and gives the students the reason to learn. They start with the outcome, the quickest and most energy efficient F1 car of the future, and then go in search of the necessary tools to achieve that outcome.

Students who have had little interest in STEM subjects suddenly work through lunch periods and ask teachers if they can stay back in the evening and work through their school holidays. The program incorporates team building, project management, marketing, design innovation, being able to explain the engineering and manufacturing outcomes in a detailed 20-page portfolio, and writing and presentation skills. At regional, state and national finals the teams are judged in 11 areas by engineers, academics and industry professionals.

This year, “Hyperdrive Performance” from Trinity Grammar School, Kew and “Precision Racing” from Brighton Secondary School, Adelaide, in the Professional and Junior Professional categories respectively, managed to outperform 24 teams which competed in the National Finals which were staged over three days in a trackside pavilion at Melbourne’s Albert Park during the running of the 2015 Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix.

Australia versus England

World Finals are held each year linked to a Formula One Grand Prix race. This year, at the Singapore round, four Australian teams will be attempting to win back the Bernie Ecclestone Trophy lost last year to an English team in controversial circumstances. The competition between the English and Australian teams is so competitive that it has given rise to its own ashes urn containing the ashes of the two competing cars from the 2006 World Final in Melbourne.

Outstanding student achievements

Matt Cruickshank, a 20 year-old student from Sydney, realised his ambition to work in Formula One after being head hunted by Chief Technical Officer Adrian Newey and the Red Bull Formula1 racing team – and he says it was the F1 in Schools competition which got him there.

Alistair Smith from Canberra changed F1 in Schools car body design around the world when he developed a new type of car with split bodies. He investigated alternate materials and this led him to designing a complex nose section which was rapid prototyped from lightweight nylon material. The combination of design, testing and innovation was enough for his team Redline Racing to win the ’08 national finals. Their split body car recorded a track time of 0.985 seconds, and is a record which has not been broken since.

Alistair Smith is the most successful F1 in Schools car designer and race engineer in Australia to date. At the age of 15 he was a two times national champion and twice travelled overseas representing Australia. Both of those times his team was voted the second best in the world.

Lee Miller, Industrial Arts teacher at Sydney’s Ashcroft High School initiated a dramatic shift throughout his school with the help of the REA Foundation. “We started something that has never been done before at our school; launching a Year 9 engineering class. “This was purely as a result of the interest that had been generated by the F1 program and we had 22 students in our first intake, with half of them girls.” The schools science teacher taught them about aerodynamics and engineering formulas.

Miller said students were very excited about the program and started coming to class during their lunch and recess. “Talking to the other teachers we saw a definite change in our students. Not only towards science and maths but also in all of their study habits. “Their results are improving as is their behaviour in the classroom. “The students see how they can interact and solve a problem. While they’re not strong at reading from books, they are keen to get in front of a computer and have a go,” Miller said.

Dr Myers also has many other programs on the drawing board, including solar railways and an energy-focused program, all designed to encourage students to engage in an engineering future. While REA’s activities are making STEM pathways enticing and appealing to young minds, Dr Myers is calling on industry and Governments at all levels to offer their support. Corporate sponsorship is accepted at many levels including National Sponsor, Project Sponsor, Corporate Member, and Private Member. For more information go to

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Good Looks Are Just The Beginning

Good Looks Are Just The Beginning

There is more to Sydney’s Barangaroo buildings than just their obvious beauty; the precinct is also being recognised globally for its outstanding environmental credentials.

Written by Alan Johnson for TecTorque Autumn 2015.

When complete, Barangaroo will showcase how city populations can live sustainably.

Being Australia’s first carbon neutral building means neutral in operation, inclusive of electricity and gas use, residual waste emissions, and commuters travelling to and from the site. The precinct’s sustainability initiatives include an on-site blackwater treatment plant capable of supplying one million litres of recycled water a day to the precinct and surrounding buildings.

The recycled treatment plant will be able to produce around one megalitre of recycled water a day, which will be distributed to all the buildings for flushing toilets, washing down and irrigation.

When the first of the Barangaroo buildings (Tower 2) opens later this year, Sydney-siders and visitors alike will be amazed by the building’s beauty and fine architectural lines overlooking the harbour, but what most people won’t realise is that the majority of the innovative elements of the building are hidden away. Currently under construction on Sydney’s CBD harbourside, the 42-storey Tower 2 is the largest building to receive the 6 Star Green Star - Office Design v3 rating, and is shaping up to be in Sydney’s most vibrant precinct, all in Australia’s first carbon-neutral community.

Sydneys Biggest Development since 2000 Olympics

Valued at over $6bn, Barangaroo is Sydney’s biggest development project since the 2000 Olympics and one of the most significant waterfront regenerations currently underway anywhere in the world. When complete, Barangaroo will showcase how city populations can live sustainably, all serviced by new and extended transport systems. Over time, 23,000 people will live and work in the precinct, with 33,000 people expected to visit Barangaroo each day. It will be progressively delivered over the next ten to fifteen years.

The 22 hectare site has been divided into three redevelopment areas - Barangaroo Point with six hectares of public waterfront walks and parks, Barangaroo South a major new business, tourism, residential and retail precinct, while Central Barangaroo will be a cultural and civic focal point for recreation, events and entertainment. At this stage, Crown’s much talked about hotel and casino is still not finalised, with Crown expected to submit a Development Application to the NSW Government showing the plans and design of the hotel in the near future.

Owned by the NSW Government and managed by the Barangaroo Delivery Authority, Lend Lease was granted the development rights for the Barangaroo South precinct. Anita Mitchell, Lend Lease’s General Manager Sustainability at Barangaroo South, describes the project, which has Tower 2 as the central of the three buildings comprising International Towers Sydney (ITS), as a once in a generation opportunity to reshape the city of Sydney. We are building something really special here. These buildings will be world class in terms of their energy and water performance, and their waste management. “They will stand here for the next 50 to 100 years, for we have built and hard wired the infrastructure to stand the test of time.”

Energy Efficiency

Mitchell explained that all three ITS buildings will feature high-performance solar shading facades as well as energy-saving centralised cooling systems that utilise water from Sydney Harbour. The buildings will be part of a precinct-wide sustainability strategy which assists not only the commercial and residential buildings at Barangaroo South but also the local neighbourhood.

“Plus with energy-efficient designs, on and offsite low carbon and renewable energy teamed with zero carbon waste treatment and commuter carbon emission offsets, it will result in a net carbon neutral outcome for the precinct’s operational energy use,” Mitchell said. The precinct’s sustainability initiatives include an on-site blackwater treatment plant capable of supplying one million litres of recycled water a day to the precinct and surrounding buildings.

Green Star Rating

Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) Chief Executive Officer Romilly Madew said a Green Star Design rating requires “a commitment to innovation and a holistic approach to green building design. Once again, Lend Lease has sent a clear signal that a green building can be good for both the environment and the tenants who choose such offices. Those organisations moving into Tower 2 will be working in one of the world’s most sustainable business addresses,” Madew said.

Mitchell explained that the 6 Star Green Star rating for Tower 2 was just the beginning. “Tower 2 was our first cab off the rank, and we have just finalised our round two submission for Tower 3 which is the next building going up.” Mitchell pointed out that Tower 1 has already received enough Green Star points, 78 points under round one, to qualify for a 6 Star rating. (75 points are needed to achieve a 6 Star rating). “T2 is only the second building ever to have enough points after just the first round to achieve a 6 Star rating,” she said. “However, we will re submit it for round two so we can get the additional points, which will take us up to 85 points, then we will announce the rating. “And once we get feedback on the Tower 1 building, we will re-submit our documentation to achieve a 6 Star Green Star rating there as well,” Mitchell said.

Being carbon-neutral

Mitchell explains that being Australia’s first carbon neutral building means neutral in operation, inclusive of electricity and gas use, any residual waste emissions, and commuters travelling to and from the construction site. For example, we have carbon offsets for the commuters coming and going, with the precinct fed with renewable energy.

“Plus we have reduced our carbon footprint as much as we can through precinct infrastructure and building design, and the amount of electricity used within the precinct. For the rest of the electricity demand we have installed just over 6000m2 of solar panels, which covers nearly all of the buildings’ roof tops. We also will have about a megawatt of gas fired generation, which is still to be finalised, but it will be put in as another demand site initiative, and then we move to an off-site solution.”

Carbon Neutral in perpetuity

Lend Lease has established, through its 99-year ground leases and tenancy agreements, that owners and tenants contribute to the support of the community carbon fund, meaning the Barangaroo precinct is carbon-neutral in perpetuity.

“What’s different about this site is that we have included other emissions such as tenancy emissions to become a carbon-neutral precinct.” Mitchell explained that the Barangaroo project is one of 18 projects globally that are part of the US Clinton Climate Initiative’s Climate Positive Development Program designed to tackle climate change.

“The Victoria Harbour project, which is another Lend Lease project, is the only other one in Australia, with the other projects scattered around the world.”The projects are looking at different ways of achieving carbon neutrality in practice.

“As part of the program, with the help of the City of Sydney, we share the mechanisms we are using, which can then be picked up and used around the world to tackle climate change. “And Barangaroo is the first project to have its roadmap certified. We are really leading the way in how a big urban development project can actually provide for a new city, but do it in a way that does not impact on the environment,” she said.

Project challenges

While Tower 2 is on track to open as scheduled in the middle of this year, Mitchell admitted the project has not been without its challenges. “Where we are building has been one of the biggest challenges; building on reclaimed land. “Getting the project out of the ground and the remediation of the contaminated land was very challenging. It took a lot of time and effort at the beginning of the project.” Then having the harbour right next to project was another major challenge for the construction company. To keep the water out, the company built a massive retention wall system, much like a giant bath tub, to keep the harbour out. “Once we had that in place we could focus on more traditional methods of construction, putting in piles and slowly getting the building out of the ground,” Mitchell explained.

Shared Infrastructure

Another of the challenges the company faced was the implementation of the shared infrastructure, in both a legal and practical sense, adding a lot of complexity to the project.< “Getting building owners to understand that they won’t be owning their chiller, for example, was one major challenge. “Then we had to work out how to allocate energy to different buildings, things like materials credits and how to rate a building that ties into an existing building that might have been rated under a different version of the Green Star rating system five years ago.”

Mitchell admitted it was very difficult at times working through all the issues involved with a shared infrastructure. “However, the GBCA and our neighbours have been incredibly supportive in helping us overcome these logistical issues of trying to rate stand-alone buildings with shared infrastructure.

“People have talked about precinct shared infrastructure as the way of the future, but we are the first company to do it in Australia, and have had to change the rules as we have gone along,” she said. There are many examples of shared infrastructure in Europe and the Middle East but this is the first time in Australia in a precinct nature.

Interestingly, Lend Lease has built the infrastructure and, at this stage, is planning to have private utility ownership of that, rather than as a government utility. The utility will distribute chilled water for air conditioning, and recycled water to the buildings in the precinct, to flush the toilets, cleaning and irrigation. Plus the precinct has its own electrical network, which is connected to the Ausgrid network with a higher voltage, 33kv, than the traditional voltage found in Sydney’s CBD.

Mitchell is unsure whether the shared infrastructure concept will take off in Australia. “We had a unique opportunity here, to build our own little city. Whether there are similar opportunities in other large CBD developments, to bring in private utilities to service buildings like they have in Paris, Barcelona and Dubai, remains to be seen. “Having a shared infrastructure introduces a whole range of efficiencies that you would not get by doing one building at a time.”But she readily admits it would be very difficult to do something like the Barangaroo project retrospectively.

“And because we have a huge mixture of residential, commercial and retail, we have a wonderful diversity across the buildings, and when occupied, will operate at different times of the day. “This mixture has allowed us to minimise the capacity we have had to put in, which has helped us with our efficiencies in water consumption and electricity usage,” Mitchell said.

Reducing Costs

While building a 6 Star Green Star building comes with additional costs, Mitchell says Lend Lease was able to reduce the cost impact considerably by being innovative and efficient in the construction process. “By having centralised services that frees up a lot of premium space in the buildings that would traditionally be used to house all the building’s infrastructure plant. “Plus we are able to pull out around 10 per cent of the total infrastructure costs because of the centralised services, and the diversity of load. “Obviously there is some degree of premium to build a 6 Star building, but the tenants we are working with demand that environmental level of construction,” she said.

Environmental innovation

Mitchell pointed out that the precinct is packed with innovative ideas gleaned from around the world, all designed to make the buildings more efficient and environmentally friendly.The design of the energy saving centralised cooling system, for example, does not use cooling towers to reduce the buildings’ heat, instead Lend Lease is taking advantage of the location, and will take water out of the harbour.

The water will go through a cooling plant in the basement of the building, and take all the heat away from the building and transfer it into the harbour. Mitchell says the heat dissipates very quickly and will have no negative impact on the marine life in the harbour environment. Interestingly, there are a few other buildings around Sydney harbour which use water from the harbour for cooling purposes, including the Opera House and the AMP building since the late 60s. However, the Barangaroo project is by far the largest one.

Thermal Modelling

The environmental team have done an enormous amount of thermal modelling to understand the potential impact on the harbour, from an ecological point of view, plus take into consideration all the other buildings around the harbour. “The EPA has seen all our modelling and the organisation is quite happy with what we will be able to achieve,” she said.

Mitchell estimates they will probably end up with 16 large chilling machines in the basement, which will be capable of delivering up to 72 megawatts of refrigeration, making it the biggest plant in Australia. As well, they have developed non-toxic systems that will prevent marine growth in the cooling system and overcome many on-going maintenance issues. Mitchell pointed out that the recycled treatment plant is water positive. “Meaning we will export as much recycled water off site as the amount of potable water we use on site.”

In its development capacity, the plant will be able to produce around one megalitre of recycled water a day, which will be distributed to all the buildings for flushing toilets, washing down and irrigation. “We also have the potential to export the water to other buildings including Barangaroo Central and Barangaroo Park,” Mitchell said.


And not just recycled water, 99% of the construction waste on site is presently being recycled. “We had a target of 97% but we are currently achieving 99% of construction waste. A great achievement,” said Mitchell.

Solar Shading

To reduce the need for air conditioning, the environmental team has developed an innovative solar shading system. “We have modelled every façade on the Tower 2 building. Working with the architectural team, we have come up with both fixed and moveable shading elements. The moveable elements are the internal blinds, while the fixed shades are both vertical and horizontal to maximise daylight.” Mitchell said they decided against floor to ceiling glass. “It looks prettier, but adds a lot of heat loads. Instead we opted for windows with a small spandrel to add to the thermal efficiency of the building.”

Less Embodied Carbon

Another major environmental innovation Mitchell is particularly proud of is achieving 20% less embodied carbon in the buildings compared to standard construction practices. “It’s great to be carbon neutral in operation, but there is an enormous amount of carbon that is embodied into a building. The concrete, the steel, the glass and the aluminium, for example, all have a fairly heavy carbon footprint.

“We have had an analyst working with us for over four years looking at ways of taking carbon out of our supply chain, plus working with our design team to minimise our carbon footprint by ‘dematerialisation’. “By that I mean areas such as rationalising the number of piles, looking at the floor to slab thickness to make sure we have not over engineered any of the structures. That’s been an enormous project that we have undertaken.”

The team has also worked with Boral, the project’s concrete supplier, on producing different concrete mixes, with low-carbon Portland cement replacement products used where the team can. Boral has two concrete batching plants on site, which supplies most of the concrete on site giving the team complete control of the quality and timings. “We have also worked with our façade contractors and steel manufacturers to go back through their supply chains to maximise the use of the most low-carbon embodied products possible,” Mitchell said.

Social sustainability

As well as the environmental sustainability, equally important to Mitchell is the social sustainability side of the project, with a heavy engagement with the Indigenous community, with a community Indigenous hub onsite, for example. “We are targeting 500 Indigenous workers being engaged as workers onsite throughout the life of the development, and work closely with Supply Nation, for example, for various sub-contractors and materials we can use onsite.

Upskilling Workers

“For the skilled trades, 20% of the skilled trade work on site is targeted to be done by apprentices to boost apprenticeship numbers. “Plus we have established the Barangaroo Skills Exchange, which is basically an onsite TAFE funded by Federal Government through the Skills Connect program, to subsidise the training onsite.”

Mitchell said they have had more than 10,000 accredited learning outcomes already, and a very big uptake from the workforce to upgrade their technical skills as well as their language and numeracy skills. “Many of the workers were surprised to see it here, but they have really embraced it as their own.”At present there are just over 2000 workers on site, but that figure is expected to grow over the coming months as the Tower 2 building moves into finishing trades with an increase in manual labour.

Mitchell is rightly very proud of what they have delivered to date, an extension of the CBD right down to the waterfront. “This is my dream job, and we are on track to achieve our ambitious goal of making Barangaroo the new benchmark in terms of its economic, social and environmental outcomes,” Mitchell concluded.

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Hydrogen-powered cars step up a gear in Australia

Hydrogen-powered cars step up a gear in Australia

Hyundai’s recent decision to permanently import one of its hydrogen-powered Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEV) is a strong indication where the industry is going.

Written by Alan Johnson for TecTorque Autumn 2015

A Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell, a hydrogen-powered, zero-emissions Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV) built in Ulsan, South Korea is the first hydrogen-powered car to be permanently imported into the country. The vehicle is the first component of Hyundai’s plan to operate a test fleet of ix35 Fuel Cell vehicles in Australia. As such, it represents a pioneering step towards the commercial availability of emissions-free hydrogen powered vehicles in Australia.

To fuel the vehicle, Hyundai has installed Australia’s first hydrogen car refuelling station, a special hydrogen storage and dispensing system, at its headquarters in Macquarie Park, NSW.

Coregas Refuelling Solution

Coregas, a division of Wesfarmers Industrial & Safety, worked closely with Air Products, an international gases company and supplier of the refuelling station, to provide a complete refuelling solution for Hyundai, and is supplying the high purity compressed hydrogen.

Mass Production of Hydrogen-Powered Vehicle

Charlie Kim, CEO of Hyundai Motor Company Australia (HMCA), pointed out that in February 2013, Hyundai Motor Company became the first automobile manufacturer in the world to begin mass-production of a hydrogen-powered vehicle – the ix35 Fuel Cell. “This gave HMCA the ability to order a FCEV in the same way as we order any other new Hyundai car. Now we have one, we believe this fantastic car will help demonstrate the potential of hydrogen as a green transport solution for Australia.”

“Ultimately, we see no reason why Australians should not enjoy the same environmental solutions as consumers in other markets,” Kim said. “Hyundai strongly supports the idea of a ‘Hydrogen Highway’ in Australia like those already in operation overseas, and we are committed to working with local partners to try to facilitate this.”

Hydrogen Highways

In Europe and the US, ‘Hydrogen Highways’ have been built by government and private partnerships for use by FCEVs, along with other hydrogen-powered vehicles such as buses. In some cases the refuelling stations generate their own hydrogen by using solar energy and electrolysers – this creates an entirely ‘green’ transport network, with neither the fuel generation process nor the hydrogen vehicles themselves emitting any harmful by-products or burning fossil fuels.

Hume by Hydrogen

HMCA plans to build an electrolyser in partnership with Australian company Sefca at its Macquarie Park headquarters, and install a solar array to power both it and the refueller, making the HRS fully self-sustainable, with hydrogen made on-site. However, the challenge of creating and distributing hydrogen through a viable, sustainable network is a significant one.

“We are not a political entity, nor are we aligned with any political party. However, we have seen in other countries that Governments play a crucial role in developing hydrogen refuelling infrastructure,” said Kim. “To that end, HMCA’s Fuel Cell Team has visited Canberra on a number of occasions over the last two years to brief Federal Ministers about our hydrogen car. The reaction has been very positive. “One of our proposals is the ‘Hume by Hydrogen’, which could link Australia’s two largest cities via the nation’s capital. “It would require refuelling stations in Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra and in between, and could see hydrogen vehicles, including buses, running on the Hydrogen Highway emitting nothing but water vapour.

“A project like ‘Hume by Hydrogen’ would surely demonstrate the benefits of hydrogen transport very effectively, and we want our ix35 Fuel Cell to start a meaningful conversation about a hydrogen infrastructure in Australia for the benefit of future generations.” HMCA has begun discussions with a number of interested local partners to advance its thinking and seek support for its proposals.

Refuelling Station Infrastructure

Wodek Jakubik, Market Development Manager with Coregas, said this is an exciting time to be involved in the project, and at such an early stage. “We are proud to help Hyundai to bring the first fuel cell vehicles to Australia.” He said most other major car makers, including Toyota, Honda, BMW and Mercedes are at various stages of developing hydrogen-powered cars. “Already, one other car manufacturer has approached Hyundai about refuelling their own test vehicles at Macquarie Park, so there is a potential for us to work with other car makers in the future. “Involvement of multiple manufacturers with hydrogen-powered vehicles could provide the additional impetus needed to get infrastructure in place,” he said.

Hydrogen Production

For the next stage in the project, Hyundai will import more cars and will be driving the iX35s around Australia to test the vehicles under Australian conditions. “Coregas has branches and suppliers all over Australia, so we can easily supply hydrogen for refuelling wherever they require,” Jakubik said. He explained that Coregas produces hydrogen at its main production plant in Port Kembla, NSW, which is the biggest hydrogen plant in Australia and has been in operation since the 1980s.

“We also opened a second plant at Mackay, Queensland in 2014, so we’re confident we can provide a consistent, reliable supply of gas no matter how this grows.“Longer term, we are working with global leaders in technology and can even provide solutions to produce hydrogen on-site if there’s a demand,” he said.

Hydrogen Powered Forklifts

Another possible project for Coregas is hydrogen-powered forklifts, with the company already talking to forklift manufacturers about this as a possibility. Like the FCEVs, hydrogen-powered forklifts are already in use in the US and Europe, but the technology is new to Australia. “The big advantage with hydrogen-powered forklifts is that they are usually based at one location, so they don’t require significant investment in infrastructure or changes in government policy. “They simply require one hydrogen refuelling station on site and we can supply the gas in cylinders or generate it on site as required,” Jakubik said.

The cars

The ix35 Fuel Cell is one of the most advanced cars in the world, running on hydrogen and emitting nothing but water vapour from its exhaust pipe. Hydrogen from the vehicle’s fuel tank is mixed with air and converted to electricity by a fuel cell stack – the electricity then powers the ix35 Fuel Cell’s electric motor.

The vehicle is near-silent, efficient, and emissions-free. It is also very safe, meeting the world’s most stringent vehicle safety standards. It is as practical and useful as a standard petrol- or diesel-powered ix35, with comparable interior space and similar performance. The imported car is a left-hand-drive, European-specification ix35 Fuel Cell, as this model is currently not made in right hand drive.

The ix35 Fuel Cell develops 100kW of power and 300Nm of torque and has an official maximum range of 594km. A Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell set a record in July last year for the longest journey completed by a vehicle on a single tank of hydrogen, driving 700km through Norway, Sweden and Denmark. Scott Nargar, HMCA’s Product Planning Manager and head of the HMCA Fuel Cell Program, said the car is surprisingly quick, as well as being safe to drive.

“It develops maximum torque at zero revs and accelerates more rapidly than you’d expect. “When some members of the Australian media drove this version of the ix35 Fuel Cell recently at Hyundai’s Namyang proving ground, they were surprised by how ‘natural’ the car is to drive. It’s near-silent, too, the same as any electric car,” Nargar said. The ix35 Fuel Cell can accelerate from 0-100kmh in 12.5 seconds and its maximum speed is 160kmh. “It is no racing car, but it’s not slow. It’s like a normal car in most ways, but it’s an electric vehicle, so it makes no engine noise and has no gearbox,” Nargar said.

He said it’s far too early to talk about pricing, and when the vehicles will be available for sale in Australia, but Nargar did reveal that private customers are leasing ix35 Fuel Cell vehicles for $US499 per month in Los Angeles as part of an advanced hydrogen scheme, and many more ix35 Fuel Cells are operational throughout Europe. “The delivery of Australia’s first FCEV marks a significant step in developing a hydrogen fuel infrastructure in this country.”

The technology

Nargar said the Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell is essentially an electric car, with the electricity supplied by a fuel cell stack. “The really clever part happens inside the fuel cell itself - in simple terms, Hydrogen molecules from the fuel tank are combined with air, and passed through a membrane in a process called electrolysis, which creates the electricity used to power the car’s electric motor,” he explained.

The ix35 Fuel Cell uses what’s known as a PEM (Proton Exchange Membrane or Polymer Electrolyte Membrane) Fuel Cell.

Here’s what happens:

1. A fuel cell has two electrodes, an anode and a cathode that are separated by a membrane.

2. Oxygen passes over one electrode and hydrogen over the other.

3. The hydrogen reacts to a catalyst on the electrode anode that converts the hydrogen gas into negatively-charged electrons (e-) and positively charged ions (H +).

4. The electrons flow out of the cell to be used as electrical energy.

5. The hydrogen ions move through the electrolyte membrane to the cathode electrode where they combine with oxygen to produce heat and water.


Regarding the safety of the hydrogen fuel, the ix35 Fuel Cell meets the strictest global vehicle safety standards with over 30 of the vehicles crash-tested to verify its level of safety. Many Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell vehicles are now operational on public roads around the world, including in California and countries throughout Europe. Hydrogen is an ultra-light element that dissipates quickly when it comes into contact with the atmosphere, unlike petrol which can form in pools and burn. “It is flammable, yes, but no more dangerous than other gases and arguably less dangerous than a fluid like petrol.”

The car’s hydrogen tanks are constructed with steel and carbon composite wrap, enough to contain the gas at a maximum pressure of 700bar (10,000psi). Nargar said the hydrogen tanks have had bullets fired at them, have been put into fire baths and subjected to other extreme tests to verify their immense strength, explaining that the fuel pressure is greatly reduced before it enters the vehicle’s fuel cell stack. “In short, the ix35 Fuel Cell is extremely safe. Plus it’s also worth noting that Australia is quite advanced with the use of other gaseous fuels like LPG and CNG, so hydrogen technology, more advanced than LPG, should represent no great challenge for Australia in safety terms.”

When it’s time to refuel the vehicle, Nargar says that with an advanced, full-size 700bar (10,000psi) refueller like those used in Europe and America, fill time is about three minutes, the same as a normal petrol or diesel car. “However, the refueller we have installed at HMCA is a small 350bar compressor, offering a fill time between three and seven minutes. “And refuelling at 350bar instead of 700bar will mean our vehicle will have a range of approximately 300km – ample to demonstrate its capabilities.”

Could a ‘Hume by Hydrogen’ highway be built by 2020?

“Of course. The potential is there for hydrogen highways, and for even more ambitious plans to power remote communities using solar and hydrogen technology. Such schemes could include completely emissions-free transport built in. “Over the past two years, discussions have been held with global infrastructure manufacturers, with one even showing interest in manufacturing the Hydrogen stations in Australia – a great way to create engineering and manufacturing jobs.

“HMCA is committed to hydrogen technology, but it will only work if vehicle and infrastructure manufacturers work together with businesses and Governments to start planning for a greener future today,” Nargar said.


While the first fuel cells were invented in 1838, the first commercial use of fuel cells came more than a century later in NASA space programs to generate power for probes, satellites and space capsules. Since then, fuel cells have been used in many other application such as for primary and backup power for commercial, industrial and residential buildings and in remote or inaccessible areas. They are also used to power fuel-cell vehicles, including forklifts, automobiles, buses, boats, motorcycles and submarines.

Last year Toyota announced it has allowed a battery-supply deal with Tesla Motors to expire and will focus instead on building cars running on hydrogen fuel cells, a next-generation technology that rivals Tesla’s all-electric systems. A fuel cell is like a battery in that it generates electricity from an electrochemical reaction. Fuel cells however use an external supply of chemical energy meaning they can run indefinitely, as long as they are supplied with a source of hydrogen and a source of oxygen (usually air).

Fuel cell technology offers clean, ef?cient, reliable power generation to almost any device requiring electrical power. Arguably, fuel cells represent the most versatile energy solution ever invented.

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