Name: Derek Loewen

Biographical notes:

I completed a B.A.Sc. in Honours Mechanical Engineering (co-op) through University of Waterloo in 2009.  During my course of studies, I spent three co-op terms in the automotive industry, working in quality engineering, test engineering, and maintenance engineering.  I was also privileged to spend two co-op terms working as a mechanical designer with DALSA Corporation, a leading manufacturer of scientific/medical/industrial digital cameras.  During my time there I designed a complete mechanical concept for a high-performance astronomy camera.  My fourth-year final design project was a complete thermal protection system for a high-performance snowmobile.

"Harmonic Filter Design for a Fluid Shear Sensor" (submitted to CSME, not yet published) by D. Loewen, S. El-Sayed, and M.G. Lipsett, 2010.

Project Title: Predictive Wear in Slurry Pipelines

Hydrotransport pipelines in the oilsands industry experience accelerated wear due to varying combinations of abrasion, impingement, and corrosion.  These processes cause pipelines to wear through, incurring profit losses due to downtime and spillage.

To date little is understood regarding the effect of flow parameters on these wear processes.  Consequently, maintenance engineers have thus far been unable to predict the lifespan of a section of pipe (for maintenance scheduling), based on slurry flow parameters.

The objectives of my work are: (a) to seek to quantitatively determine the effect of major flow parameters which contribute to wear processes, (b) to identify the flow patterns (and thus, the wear processes) occurring at various locations in a pipeline, and (c) to take this research a logical step further by looking at slurry pumps (time allowing).

To complete the given objectives, I intend to use several techniques, listed below.

  • Simple material loss measurements as well as profilometry of inner pipe surfaces.
  • Non-destructive testing, by means of ultrasonic transducers/receivers mounted to the pipe.
  • Particle image velocimetry (PIV) through an optically clear section of pipe.  This will help to understand what is physically occurring at the pipe walls.
  • Acoustic monitoring of flows through the pipeline; the power spectrum of the acquired signal is expected to help with identify flow characteristics.

Progress to Date:

To date, a lab-scale slurry pipe loop has been built (by a research colleague).  I have prepared the data acquisition unit, wired all the sensors and electronic components together, and researched and ordered interfaces for pump and mixer motor control.  I have also researched the harmonic properties of a wall shear sensor developed by one of my colleagues.  From this research I have submitted a paper to the CSME forum in Victoria, to be presented in June.  I expect to have the slurry pipe loop up and running within the next few weeks, and to have the capability of logging good flow data within a month or two.  I also expect to have started PIV experiments by the end of summer 2010.

Expected completion date: 2011

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