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SBRC Engineering Students Visit China

December 2012

A group of students from the Engineering Faculty and five other faculties from UOW have joined forces with TAFE Illawarra Institute to form ‘Team UOW Australia’. Competing in the Solar Decathlon China 2013, they believe they hold the answer to achieving sustainability in Australia’s housing market.

In a series of firsts, Team UOW is the first Australian team to be selected to take part in a Solar Decathlon. The Team’s ‘Illawarra Flame’ entry demonstrates the idea of transforming a typical Aussie ‘fibro’ house into a sustainable, net zero-energy home – the first team in a Solar Decathlon to ever demonstrate how to retrofit a existing home. The Solar Decathlon is now celebrating 10 years of competition, but it is the first time the event will be held in Asia.

The Solar Decathlon competition, hosted by the Chinese National Energy Administration and U.S. Department of Energy, will take place in August 2013 at Datong, China.

Project Manager and Mechanical Engineering student Lloyd Niccol said: “the ‘Illawarra Flame’ provides an example of how the Australian housing sector can address issues of environmental degradation and growing electricity costs through the application of innovative technologies and creative thinking”.

“Since only 1-2 per cent of Australia’s housing stock is replaced each year, improving the performance of our existing buildings provides the greatest potential for immediate environmental improvement,” he added.

“We are looking into how we can modify our houses with new and existing technologies, such as Photovoltaic Thermal systems and water treatment systems, to provide the housing sector with examples of how we can future-fit our houses for a more environmentally focused future,” Mr Niccol said.

“Our team is truly diverse. We are working with students from various faculties – Engineering, Commerce, Arts, Creative Arts, Science and Informatics; all from various backgrounds, which I think adds another unique element to our team.”

Eleven members of Team UOW recently attended the China International Solar Energy Summit and the SD China 2013 Design Development and Review Workshop in Datong.

At the Solar Energy Summit, the team heard presentations by speakers from across the globe on issues such as expanding solar energy deployment, as well as technology feasibility and economic analysis for solar technology innovation.

 “It was exciting to visit the competition site and see where we will build our house next August. There is a tremendous amount of construction going on at the moment, which I think is real evidence of the importance the Chinese Government is placing on this competition. The site where the competition will take place is actually bigger than the Beijing Olympic Park!” Mr Niccol said.

“The design review workshops were valuable as we can now refine our plans and begin construction soon.”

“Visiting Datong really opened our eyes to the enormity of the task ahead. We are excited for the challenges that face us over the coming months and look forward to representing UOW – and Australia – on the world stage.”

Team UOW will begin construction of the Illawarra Flame at the TAFE Illawarra campus in January. The house will then be packed up and shipped to Datong in May. Team UOW will then reassemble the house over a 10-day period, ready to compete against a host of leading university teams from around the world and the arrival of hundreds of thousands of visitors.

To track the progress of the team or find ways you can become involved, head to the website.

Last reviewed: 11 March, 2016