Dow Centre for Sustainable Engineering Innovation
School of Chemical Engineering

2018 SISCA Finalists and Winners

The 2018 SISCA competition invited students to submit innovative ideas with a tangible engineering focus that address global sustainability issues through the production and use of energy and materials. This required students to prepare a comprehensive proposal and pitch their ideas to a panel of judges and fellow students. The SISCA competition is an opportunity for students who want to make a positive impact on sustainability to collaborate with their peers across disciplines, apply the knowledge and skills gained from their study at UQ, and win some amazing cash prizes to help turn their bright ideas in to reality. Congratulations to all Finalists and Winners of the 2018 SISCA competition!

Startup-ready idea proposals

    First-place and $25,000 prize: NPK - Ashley Baxter and Ashley Chiam

A medium-scale composting system that is low-cost, low-energy yet capable of producing commercial-grade organic fertiliser. This is achieved through innovative, first-principals design that removes the complex and expensive automation seen in current alternatives in favour of a dynamic, mechanical system. In order to ensure the quality of the fertiliser output, sensors for temperature, humidity, pH and nutrient values will be integrated into the system and streamed to an analysis backend for insights on the sensitive biological processes.



Runner-up and $10,000 prize: H2Ope Greywater Filtration Systems - Tony Jojo, Mahealani  Delaney, Ruhma Shahzad, Alexander  Moore, Vanessa  Poh, Emma Dahan and Edward Southall

A modular greywater treatment system which will allow households to effectively utilise their water consumption, increase their sustainability around the house and also make an economic saving whilst doing this. To resolve the current sustainability problems surrounding water shortage, the proposed solution is the encouragement and facilitation of a circular economy. To do this, H2ope aim to launch an educational campaign along with a product that is significantly more affordable and practical than existing alternatives and provides portability, modularity and domestic usage.



Second runner-up and $2,500 prize: Affordable Biogas Plant System - Quan Shi

A new generation of biogas plant system has been proposed to help local families solve their renewable energy supply issues. The advanced modular foldable structures have a modern metal appearance and most efficient folding fabrication methods. The use of digital-fabrication method saves material usage, eases the transportation and ensures a 50 years of service life.




Early-stage idea proposals

    The Powersphere, $5,000 prize - Hayden Baks, Qiushi Huang, and Alex Riley

An omnidirectional wind turbine capable of capturing wind from all directions causing the turbine to spin on a single axis, which can convert kinetic energy from wind to electrical energy. The Powersphere provides a means for those living in high-rise dwellings to reduce their living costs by utilising their nations feed in tariff rebates. The compact, low cost nature of the Powersphere provides a viable solution to regions in the world without access to reliable electricity sources.




Phytoplankton Carbon Sink, $5,000 prize - Riannah Burns and Benjamin Coughlin

A method to replicate the biological pump outside of the ocean (in tanks) in a more efficient and controlled environment, in which 100% of the CO2 is sequestrated. Earning revenue through carbon offset markets which trade certified emission reduction credits. Phytoplankton sequestration is relatively inexpensive compared to other industrial approaches, and can theoretically sequester for less than €5/ton CO2, creating a substantial return. Plankton carbon sinks will become a better substitute for carbon offsets. A full-scale plankton restoration plant could regenerate approximately 3-5 billion tons of C02 sequestration, this would be worth €50-100 billion in carbon offset value. One of the proposed tanks aims to store 1-3 billion tons of C02 sequestration, which is an equivalent of €10-50 billion in carbon offset value.



Sustainable Sand Alternative for Concrete, $2,500 prize - Giulio Deane-Caleffi

The global demand for sand is rising at an unsustainable pace, causing environmental, social and economic issues. Sand is a unique resource as it is difficult to regulate the supply. The ease of access to the resource leads to black markets developing when restrictions are imposed that drop supply below demand. As such, the only way to reduce the global consumption of sand is to reduce the demand for it. It is proposed to take Iron Ore Tailings (IOT) from iron mining companies which normally get treated as waste and disposed of in unsustainable ways, to use as a sustainable alternative for sand as a fine aggregate in concrete. Research has shown that IOT can be used as a sustainable and comparatively higher quality replacement to sand as a fine aggregate in concrete. This idea seeks to operate a system which obtains, stores, and sells the IOT on to concrete companies as a sand alternative.


Ref-tech Self-Powered Fire Detectors, $2,500 prize Anders Horgen Aaseboe, Raia Alballa, Peiquan Li, Xia Shi, Xueyan Chen, and Yiqun Xu

A fire detecting unit that can communicate wirelessly with other fire detecting units in a grid of fire detecting units that work as a local area network to distribute information on fire events. This information will include the location of the fire and alert surrounding households to decrease respons and evacuation time. The fire detecting units can be assembled locally (for example, in a village or camp), arranged by the NGOs, such that the NGOs can offer the livelihood to the camp, and ensure that maintenance can be offered quickly. RefTech will provide components and instructions on how to install and assemble.



Bon Courage, $2,500 prize - Javier Rangel, Rosario Perez, Camilo Montoya, Nicholas Kang, Yepeng Ding, and Ju Yao

A rainwater collection and treatment system to satisfy the water demands of the inhabitants of refugee camps by treating rainwater to a standard acceptable for use as potable water. This design has several key features and benefits over the existing treatment system: a parabolic form of the collection system provides a large collection area and allows for efficient capture; the produced potable water will be more pure than the water sourced from natural springs in the camp; the systems that collects and treats the rainwater will be a single unit, meaning complexity and capital costs are low; minimal skill or labour is required to operate and maintain the system; and the unit could be built form low-cost, readily available materials. The main points of difference from the current technology are the difference in water source, difference in collection method, and difference in water treatment and management.


‘Rapid’ solution for insect free living, $2,500 prizeOctovian Cletus Lawrence Vijayakumar, Yiquan Deng, Jagrat Shah, Abishek Waghmare, and Yilun Weng

A method to help customers to get rid of insect-borne diseases through the use of sustainable power. This design uses infrared light and water lilies or taro attract insect; a solar panel and battery powered electric grid to kill insects; and a liquid container to collect insect bodies which can subsequently be used as feed for livestock or fertilizers. The most significant difference between ‘Rapid’ and currently commercial insect control facilities is that natural plants are utilized to attract insects instead of artificial pheromones, which makes this solution more eco-friendly. At he same time, those plants also can be utilized as food source for locals. Meanwhile, it avoids the dangerous of using propane generating carbon dioxide to attract insects which may contribute to carbon footprint and has a risk of fire.



A special thanks to the judges of the 2018 SISCA competition, Professor Mohan Krishnamoorthy (Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Research Partnerships, UQ), Dr James Wiltshire (R&D Technology Leader A&NZ, Dow Chemical Company), Mr Bernie Woodcroft (Director, ilab, UQ) and Mr Cameron Turner (BEL Faculty Entrepreneur in Residence, Startup Academy, UQ), pictured with Professor Chris Greig (Director) and Briony Beaumont (Centre Manager) of the the UQ Dow Centre for Sustainable Engineering Innovation.