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First SouthSci project for 2018!


Manurewa High School’s SouthSci project is the first go-cart off the block for 2018. They’ve won funding for their biofuel from algae project – and, yes, there is a go-cart involved.

Algae for biofuel is one of 10 projects on offer to the 110 students at Manurewa’s Health Science Academy this year.

Teacher Nicole Stevens says 18 students will work on the biofuel project and five on the mechanical engineering of the go-cart to use the biofuel.

“They’re excited because this project is a bigger version of one that analyses biofuel and alternative uses for its by-products,” she says.

“There are three elements to this, and we hope to get them all done this year.”

The first element involves designing and producing a 3D-printed algae capsule to effectively grow algae, extracting oil from different algae species to see which is the most effective producer, and then producing biofuel.

Students will present their initial findings to other Auckland schools and the public at the Tiaki expo in August. They’re hoping to go one better than last year, when they won second place (pictured) with their project on algae farming to create a biofuel and an algae mat to support agriculture.

“When the students first introduced the concept of doing this project at Tiaki in 2017 there was extensive interest from community groups and University mentors,” Nicole says.

The second element is to use the biofuel to race a go-cart at the EVolocity schools competiton in September. That requires working out how to adapt the go-cart motor for biofuel.

“It’s basically a mechanical engineering add-on where a team of really keen Y13 guys are designing the biofuel motor for that,” Nicole says.  

“They will have one go-cart and two interchangeable motors – one electric, one biofuel. They’re doing that all on their own, organising their own support and expertise.”

The third element will be analysing the biofuel, testing emission gases, and looking at alternative uses of the byproducts.

Experts from Auckland University, AUT, Auckland Transport, NIWA and Z Energy will be helping with the science behind the ideas. 

“The whole point of these projects is to bring real-world science to the students so they can have some science skills and experience behind them when they go on to tertiary study and work,” Nicole says.