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STEM Project


Please note that all Esperance SHS science experiment guidelines are being adhered to for this project!

The project aims to develop a drone to suit the Department of Parks and Wildlife’s need for remotely igniting hazard reduction burns. Local DPAW would like a flexible easily deployed burn ignition solution. Independence Group mining are supporting the STEM project financially.

Year 9 and Year 10 potential students were considered and then offered the opportunity to be part of the project.

A helicopter based system is expensive, risky, requires planning ahead with accurate forecasting, and a flexible support team.

These smaller scale systems exist as specialist units on the market in the US but drop a burn capsule rather than a gelled fuel, or squirt an un-gelled petrol.

Gelled fuel is more effective for remote South East coastal WA areas.

We are developing a prototype of a drone that carries a tank of gelled petrol to the required location and then squirts, and ignites, a quantity onto the bush below. Safely.

This involves designing ignition systems that work in high wind, a gel pump system, a fuel tank to mount on a drone and then making all of it work within the parameters of a drone’s lifting ability and being ‘crash safe’.

The group are developing STEM skills designing all the drones gelled fuel storage deployment and ignition systems, as well as managing safe testing of appropriate fuel mixes.  They have built a fuel test containment tray, involved metalwork, folding, bending grinding and welding.

Currently students are involved in a variety of related tasks including building an electric arc plasma system to ignite the fuel. This has very high voltages to manage. While others are rebuilding the crashed drone (a battery failure – I was assured). Failure brings opportunity for learning…. 

Scott Fisher