A locking system originally designed to enable low density polyethylene tanks to be transported in pieces has been named Australia's invention of the year by a national television program that showcases innovative products and designs.
The Joinlox system, developed by Queensland ecologist Dean Cameron, won the top award presented by The New Inventors program, which screens weekly on the Australian Broadcasting Corp. channel.
Cameron was a previous weekly winner on the program in July 2006 with his no-chemical Biolytix Filter system that uses a large plastic tank filled with worms and other organisms to naturally break down raw sewage, waste water and food scraps to produce safe irrigation water.
The Joinlox system arose from Cameron's desire to find a more efficient, cheaper way to transport Biolytix tanks, especially to overseas markets.
Cameron said the solution came after he read an article to his son about the way clams cling to rocks by inserting hooks on their shell hinge into tiny holes on a rock's surface.
The design he devised uses hooks that look like the battlements of a castle on the edges of pieces needing to be joined. Two pieces are locked together with a castellated key.
Parts could be designed to incorporate a groove to house sealant or a gasket to give a water-tight, gas-tight seal.
Cameron said his invention replaces traditional methods of joining parts, including screws, rivets, welding or glue. It can be applied to flat or curved parts made from metals or plastics, making it suitable for use in the building, aerospace and automotive industries.
With plastic tanks, it means component parts can be made by injection molding instead of the more expensive rotational method.
Cameron said his company, Joinlox Pty. Ltd., based at Maleny, has fielded inquiries from around the world and is interested in striking licensing deals or strategic partnerships to apply the technology.