Student helps build device to reduce dam evaporation | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Student helps build device to reduce dam evaporation

A 23-year-old engineering student from USC Australia has begun testing a new device that could change the way farmers protect their water stocks from evaporation.

Jaydan Turner of Birtinya knows that loss of water through evaporation is one of the top unresolved issues in agriculture, horticulture and water conservation in Australia.

He recently partnered with QUIT EVAP Australia to build the company’s Evaporation Mitigation Technology device as part of his final-year engineering project, and he will assess its effectiveness at a lake on USC’s Sunshine Coast campus this semester.

“We will be installing a 20m x 20m polypropylene floating system on the lake to trial its effectiveness,” Jaydan said.

“I will be testing the impact of the wind on the device and the consequent tensile loads placed in restraining cables connected to load cells on the mooring buoys.

“Wind profiles, water current and weather are all uncontrollable environmental factors that will affect the device in some way or another, and so we need to understand them. I will also conduct a literature review of how similar existing devices have performed.”

Jaydan became involved in the project after QUIT EVAP Australia founder Peter Chapman reached out to USC Senior Lecturer in Geotechnical Engineering Dr Adrian McCallum for a partnership that offered industry experience to students in return for research and development support.

Mr Chapman said that partnering with the local university was a wonderful opportunity, particularly as USC has two small lakes on which to test his product.

“For someone in small business like me, it’s been extremely valuable to have this support,” Mr Chapman said.

“The university has resources available to people like myself that can assist greatly in achieving our goals in getting a product to market.”

His evaporation mitigation device features reinforced polypropylene fabric that is 100 percent waterproof floating on the water. The modular design is intended to offer affordable self-installation with the ability to join multiple panels for larger bodies of water, such as cotton dams.

Jaydan, originally from regional New South Wales, said evaporation and seepage loss from water storage was responsible for approximately 45 percent of the water lost from on-farm irrigation systems in the Queensland Murray Darling Basin.

He says he’s driven to play a role in solving such problems out in the field when he graduates from USC at the end of 2021.

Jaydan is hopeful that such a solution will improve more properties by decreasing evaporation for more farmers like his grandparents in regional NSW.

“Engineering is a fantastic path to go down for any young aspiring individual,” Jaydan said.

“The discipline is so broad in the fields you can choose to go down, whether it be design, construction, traffic and transport, mechanical, geotechnical, electrical or any other areas.

“You don’t have to know exactly what area of engineering you want to specialise in when you start studying. You get a broad overview of the industry at the beginning and then your passion soon helps you decide.”

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