Iceberg Harvesting: First years face the challenge

10 October 2006

Icebergs (Source:  NASA)
Icebergs (Source: NASA)

No citizen could be unaware that water supplies in dams in the Sydney region are at dangerously low levels. Despite the fact that our community has been quite wasteful in its use of water in the past the response to water use restrictions prompted by the prolonged period of drought has been very successful. But water restrictions by themselves are not enough to solve the problem.

There has been much discussion in the Parliament and in the media about possible alternative sources of supply. Desalination has been proposed as one, but water recycling is considered by many to show greater promise. Another idea, considered by some to be fanciful, is to tow icebergs from Antarctica to population centres like Melbourne or Sydney and to use the fresh water from the melting ice. The idea has been known for many years but has not gained much favour.

Nevertheless it is prudent for our profession to be considering all possible alternatives, seeking to develop new technologies for possible future use.

As part of the first year course, Professional Engineering 1, students will take part inthe "Iceberg Harvesting" competition which aimsto investigate the possibilities of using this idea to help solve our need for fresh water in the future.

Students willdevise and build equipment that will be attached to a block of ice so that it can be propelled 25 metres across a body of water to a designated destination using only the power of a lighted candle.

The competition will take place in Lake Northam in Victoria Park near the main entrance to The University of Sydney campus on Tuesday 24 October 2006.

Contact: Rob Wheen

Phone: 9351 2122