photoshopped-no-279-bldg-nos-websiteOn Monday 12 December, the Federal Minister for Industry, Innovation & Science, the Hon Greg Hunt, officially opened Vipac Engineers & Scientists’ new Refrigeration Test Chambers during a tour of their Port Melbourne laboratories.

Refrigeration manufacturers from around the world will use these chambers to ensure their products meet both Australian and International Standards. Unlike other household appliances, refrigerators operate twenty four hours a day. This makes safety and energy efficiency critical, both to reduce our carbon footprint and our household bills. Technology has advanced so rapidly that a refrigerator considered energy efficient 10 years ago, may no longer be.

Vipac’s Chairman, Wendy Smith, said “Manufacturers use the chambers to test newly proposed models before they go into full production to ensure standards are met in safety, energy use, performance and volume. Vipac also conducts random refrigerator tests direct from retailers to compare performance against energy labelling to give consumers greater confidence in what they’re buying.”

Features include two side-by-side chambers with 6 bays each to enable 12 refrigerators to be tested at any time, high-end instrumentation such as energy meters and data loggers, stabilised voltage system to allow independent control of each bay, and state-of-the-art chilled water cooling and airflow supply system design to ensure a temperature-controlled environment. “This new chamber will offer fast and professional turnaround, within an average of only 3-4 weeks”, said Ms. Smith.

Central to climate change policies is the issue of vehicle emissions. Minister Hunt also witnessed emission testing being carried out on Vipac’s dynamometer on a modified vehicle. “What makes our facilities so unique at Vipac is having the only ‘fully transient’ heavy duty chassis dynamometer in Australia capable of testing a full range of vehicles from passenger cars through to prime movers”, said Ms. Smith.

To end the tour was a demonstration of Vipac’s Wind Tunnel, operated by a powerful Boeing jet engine. This provided a rare insight into the latest techniques of wind planning, an increasingly important factor as buildings become taller and the need to replicate major storms and hurricanes becomes greater. Wind engineering determines the size and look of buildings, and is therefore critically important in shaping city skylines.