Australian university team picks up first prize in Airbus Fly Your Ideas environment competition
The winning 'COz' team
Fri 19 Jun 2009 – The University of Queensland ‘COz’ team has won the inaugural Airbus Fly Your Ideas challenge final held during the Paris Air Show. The team was awarded the €30,000 first prize for its project into the use of the castor plant to develop the first-ever single plant-based high performance composite materials for aircraft cabin components. The goal of the project was to reduce dependency on non-renewable sources and improve end-of-life disposal, thus contributing to a reduction of aviation’s carbon footprint. The team conducted a comprehensive feasibility analysis entailing fibre production and testing, demonstrating encouraging mechanical and environmental properties.
The ‘COz’ team has a multinational make-up with team leader, Michael Heitzmann, of Swiss origin and Alex Ng, originally from Hong Kong. Both are PhD students in mechanical engineering at the University of Queensland. Third team member is Benjamin Lindenberger from Germany, an aerospace engineering student who is undertaking his University of Stuttgart diploma thesis at Queensland.
“We wanted to demonstrate that composite materials made entirely with castor plant fibre can reduce the carbon footprint of aircraft and enhance environmental protection. We are extremely proud to have convinced the jury with our project and we hope it will have a future in aviation,” said Heitzmann.
The runner-up was the ‘Solaire Voyager’ team from the National University of Singapore for its proposal to use solar cell technology integrating photovoltaic cells aboard aircraft to generate electricity.
The other three finalists comprised ‘Big Bang Team’ from Universidad Politécnica de Valencia in Spain for its windowless cabin proposal for a new eco-efficient aircraft design; ‘Kometa Brno’ from Brno University of Technology in the Czech Republic whose team developed a project on aircraft taxiway movements using electro-motors; and ‘Stanford ADG’ from Stanford University in the USA for its proposal on inverted V formation flight, building on the model of migrating birds to reduce energy consumption.
“We were truly impressed by the effort made by all five teams, the high quality of their projects, their presentation and the command they had of their subject areas,” said Patrick Gavin, Airbus Executive Vice-President Engineering, Fly Your Ideas contest patron and jury President. “We were looking for challenging ‘blue-sky’, creative thinking, and all the teams demonstrated this. If these students represent the future of aerospace, then it promises to be an exciting future.”
More than 2,350 students from 82 countries around the world entered the competition. Their objective was to come up with innovative and eco-efficient ideas to shape the future of aviation, and deliver a further reduction in the industry’s impact on the environment. The competition was also designed to attract more young people to the aerospace industry.