20 April 2016

WAJCEC postgraduate research awards night

Western Australia Joint Chemical Engineering Committee Postgraduate Research Excellence Awards 2016

The Western Australian (WA) Joint Chemical Engineering Committee recently held its third annual Postgraduate Research Excellence Awards. The awards seek to showcase and recognise some of the best chemical engineering research being conducted by postgraduate students in WA universities.

The overall winner for the 2016 award was the University of Western Australia’s Keelan O’Neill. His winning presentation reported on a multiphase flowmeter that uses Earth-field Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, for which he demonstrated good agreement with experimental data and a huge potential, especially in subsea applications.

All finalists presented their respective PhD projects to an audience of industry and academic personnel. There was equal representation from three of the universities supporting the event: Curtin University; The University of Western Australia (UWA); and Murdoch University. The topics highlighted the diverse industries and research activities in chemical engineering in WA. Two presentations focused on issues in LNG, while the others were in the fields of bio-energy, pharmaceuticals, environmental protection and process instrumentation.

The awards were judged by Jim Selby, Guangzhi Sun and Dylan van den Berg, who between them have a good mix of industry and academic experience. Four criteria were used: significance of the research to chemical engineering; application in industry; novelty; and presentation quality.

 Sofia Chaudry (Murdoch University) presented an interesting type of algae. The algae lent itself well to biofuel development, as it produced a significant amount of long-chain hydrocarbons that could be harvested more effectively than traditional algal biofuels.

Walter Ikealumba (Curtin University) provided insight into the development of a novel method of modelling LNG dispersion using custom code within ANSYS Fluent that was solved using the Pawsey supercomputing facilities.

Sharmilee Mane described the shortcut process she developed at Curtin University to purify an anti-diabetic bioactive compound - gamma conglutin - from lupin seeds, which are heavily farmed in WA.

Jordan Oakley (UWA) presented his findings into avoiding solids formation in cryogenic heat exchangers used in LNG production by developing a new experimental technique and optimising solid-liquid equilibrium parameters for natural gas mixtures.

Ibukun Oluwoye (Murdoch University) showcased his work on using recycled polyethylene to tackle NOx emissions associated with ammonium nitrate/fuel oil explosives used in the mining industry.

The judges congratulated all the finalists and commented that it was exciting to see the quality and diversity of chemical engineering research being undertaken in WA universities. The winner receives a personal prize and the university gets to display the perpetual shield until the awards are held again next year.

­By Jeremy McManus, Curtin University


Photo caption:

JCEC (WA) postgraduate research award finalists (l to r): Walter Ikealumba, Sharmilee Mane, Keelan O’Neill, Sofia Chaudry, Ibukun Oluwoye and Jordan Oakley.

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