Researcher finalist in Australian Innovation Challenge

USQ researcher Ray Malpress is competing for a top award
A research team led by the University of Southern Queensland’s Ray Malpress has been announced as a finalist in The Australian Innovation Challenge awards and will be judged against some of the most innovative inventions throughout Australia.

Dr Malpress is developing a Variable Length Connecting Rod which is designed as a replacement component for the standard connecting rod in car engines.

Preliminary modelling has shown the modification can boost fuel economy by up to ten per cent for engines that operate current fuel efficiency technology, including direct injection and variable valve timing.

“Petrol-run engines have improved fuel efficiency significantly over the last few decades and we’re hoping to improve it even further,” Dr Malpress said.

“Utilising the variable compression ratio (adjusting the cylinder compression ratio) is another step in engine efficiency and another step towards optimum performance from your engine.

“The Variable-Length Connecting Rod prototype allows an engine to operate at a low load with high efficiency

“Standard car engines operate at a low load for the majority of vehicle operation.

“Many technologies developed to save on fuel such as hybrid vehicles cost a lot more up front, but the cost to benefit ratio of the Variable-Length Connecting Rod is very promising, showing a significant increase in fuel efficiency for a small increase to the overall cost of the vehicle”.

Dr Malpress said it was exciting to be a finalist in The Australian Innovation Challenge.

“There are some very significant research endeavours in the finalists, including some projects that have required millions of dollars in funding already so competition is tough,” Dr Malpress said.

“As far as we can tell, no one is doing what we’re doing right now.

“This patented technology has the potential to be adapted and integrated into any engine which operates across a variable power range

“It is envisaged that the Variable Length Connecting Rod has significant potential in car engines, but may also have applications in compressors, manufacturing equipment, industrial and farming machinery.”

Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research and Innovation at USQ Professor Mark Harvey said Dr Malpress’ recognition was well deserved.

“I think it is an outstanding achievement for Ray’s research to be recognised as one of the top five innovations (in Manufacturing and High Tech Design) submitted to this most prestigious national competition,” Professor Harvey said.

“I, on behalf of USQ, congratulate him for this terrific result.”

The winner of each challenge category receives $5,000 while the overall winner receives $25,000.

Dr Malpress’ invention has already been awarded an Early Stage Commercialisation Australia grant to identify a commercial path to the market.

The winner of each professional category and the overall winner of those categories will be announced at an awards ceremony in Sydney on November 29, 2012. The winner of the Backyard Innovation category will also be announced at this gala event. The names of the winners will be published in The Weekend Australian on December 1.

For more information about the challenge, visit

Media contact:

Jim Campbell,, 07 4631 2977

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