Hamdi Abdeen, Ananya Mishra, Lucas Olson, and Jacqueline Pinderski
A significant issue among oral and maxillofacial surgeons is the treatment of cysts within the jaw. Cysts develop at random and in most cases asymptomatically. Therefore, they may reach enormous sizes before being diagnosed. Large cysts can cause severe damage to teeth and the surrounding bone. Doctors treat small cysts by surgically removing them. However, this approach is not ideal for large cysts due to the risk of surgical complications, the high expenses incurred, and the fact that it is often undesired by the patient. Current treatments include surgically opening the cyst and either suturing the tissue open or placing a small plug in the opening. However, these treatments lack key elements such as retentiveness, biocompatibility, and comfort. The objective of this project is the treatment of large, fluid-filled, benign cysts that form in the human jaw or other facial bones through creation of a tube-like structure that will serve as a conduit between the cyst and the inside of the mouth in order to equalize pressure between the two spaces and allow healing to occur, as currently there is no device which is made specifically for the purpose of keeping cyst drainage holes open. The final design is a single cylindrical tube made from PLA with increased porosity on the outside and increased density on the inside, a widened rim at the end that will remain in the oral cavity, and insertable tabs that will pop open at the end of the device that will be inside the bone. These tabs will secure the device in place and prevent it from being dislodged.
Karima Abutaleb, Mahreen Azam, Eric Lara, and Sarah Tracy
The lack of proper surgical tool sterilization is an increasing issue in developing countries. Inadequate sterilization leads to disease transmission, infection and even death. While autoclaves, the current golden standard for sterilization, are effective, they are often rendered useless after breaking as the cost to repair and maintain them is incredibly high. This leads to the dependence on insufficient techniques such as the use of diluted bleach. Diluted bleach, while effective for disinfection, leads to the destruction of surgical tools over time, does not destroy spores, and is unsustainable, as it loses potency over time which leads to its otherwiseunnecessary repurchasing. The objective of this project is to develop an alternative to diluted bleach by producing a sterilizing device intended to lower the bacteria survivability on flat, metal tools between uses on patients. The deliverables were a model, a prototype, and testing results. The prototype produces pulsed electric fields (PEFs) using DC and AC voltages across a capacitor which lyse the cell membrane of the bacteria. The prototype exhibits sustainability, durability, ease of use, and most importantly inexpensiveness. Experimental results show the prototype is effective in killing bacteria and is optimized when using both DC and AC voltage, a large area bottom capacitor plate, and 20 minutes of application. This product addresses the need for a low cost sterilization tool in developing countries and it will prevent tool degradation and help reduce the continuous costs that occur with replacing diluted bleach.
Rawan Alfadly, Carla Gomez, and Sara Um
Radiologists commonly use contrast agents to improve resolution and acuity when employing MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging). Introducing MRI contrast agents to the tissue in the innermost part of the femoroacetabular joint is extremely difficult because the anatomy prevents the contrast agents from infiltrating those surfaces. Therefore, getting the ideal image resolution and making diagnosis of the hip is difficult. The objective was to design a product that would successfully distract one hip joint while also stabilizing the patient’s pelvis to improve visualization so that physicians are able to better diagnose the hip. The deliverables included a preliminary model that illustrates how the device will move and apply load, and a minimal viable prototype of the traction device. A platform was designed to contain each component. Traction was applied with a winch that employed a ratchet gear system. The winch could be translated to either side of the platform via pins holding the winch and gears in place. Stabilizing components included pegs strategically placed under the arms and in the groin area. To alleviate some of the psychological concerns a patient may have, a release mechanism was incorporated into the design. The patient would pull the rope that is attached to the velcro strap on the ankle brace to release their foot from the ankle brace in traction. The spring for the spring scale will be made from beryllium copper because it is non ferromagnetic and is ideal for use as a tension spring. The platform, pegs, winch, and spring box were made from pine plywood. MRI images were taken with and without use of the traction device prototype, and there was a noticeable difference in the space between the femoral head and acetabulum. Our method of providing traction was sufficient and effective in distracting and stabilizing the hip joint.
Hunter Alford, Christopher Brady, Michelle Runion, and Spencer Trevisan
The clearance under a ship in the Newport News Shipbuilding dry dock is approximately 62 inches. As a result, workers are either crouched or hunched over as they carry materials and equipment underneath the ship to their work zone. This can cause physical strain on workers’ bodies, leading to safety and health problems. This design project solves the problem by creating a transport system that uses a cart suspended from two trolleys that ride on a track attached to the bottom of the hull.
A working prototype was built, demonstrated, and tested. This prototype cart maneuvered through a straight and a 90 degree curved section of rail. Scaffolding was built to simulate the bottom of the ship's hull. The main constraints for this system included - setup time, ground clearance, and load capacity. The setup time could not exceed 8 hours, the lowest point of the system must be at least two feet off the ground, and it must be able to carry a load of 150 lbs, with a factor of safety of 2.5. The approach taken was to suspend the system from the bottom of the hull. Design decisions included the type of track or rail, the type of trolley, the cart design, the connection of the cart to the trolley, and cart stabilization methods.
A successful prototype of this design was built and tested. The prototype meets all of the design specifications. Two improvements that could be made to the design include a way to move the cart without manually pushing it and a way to switch the cart between different tracks. This project impacts Newport News Shipbuilding by creating a safe and efficient way to transport materials while under the hull of a ship.
Hoor AlMazmi, Abbie DeWitte, Kelli McKenna, and Svetlana Ruseva
Electrochemical separation of used nuclear fuel (UNF) operating at 500°C is confined within a furnace, making it difficult for a visual observation. Thus, flow characteristic predictions from the furnace are often calculated through advanced computational modeling methods. Therefore, it is necessary to develop an innovative idea, combining mechanical and chemical skill sets to design and build a transparent furnace that provides a clear visualization that can later be coupled with an optical flow-visualization method, such as Laser Doppler Anemometry (LDA). Deliverables of the project include the complete design and illustration of the prototype operating up to 500°C. Challenges of the project include available resources, limited budget and time, preventing further experimentations with a large variety of chemicals and prototype construction materials. The team began the project by researching materials and designing the prototype using CAD software. Once the experimental setup was designed, the team allocated and purchased resources, performed necessary machining, and assembled the prototype. The chemicals and prototype were then tested in the lab at high temperatures to provide a proof of concept. Finally, electrochemical experiments were performed using a ternary AgCl-LiCl-KCl salt system (0.5:44.0:55.5 wt%), resulting in a successful silver deposition on the cathode. Remaining issues include: (1) complete purging of the system to produce entirely transparent liquid chemicals in which to observe the electrochemical separation, (2) complete melting of the outer chemical bath with submersible heater and temperature controller to provide consistent, continual heating of the inner vessel, and (3) revisiting insulation challenges to prevent the inner and outer system from cooling while remaining transparent continuously. This project provides a preliminary understanding of the fundamental electrorefining model and reprocessing and recycling of UNF.
Ahmed Almutawa, Ola Saadeh, Mudaher Alkhawajah, and Grant Carey
Recent epidemiologic studies show that ultrafine particles (UFPs) may play a definitive role in development of pulmonary and cardiovascular diseases, as well as cancer related mortality. In order to support the growing interest in understanding the effects of UFPs on human health, Dr. Chen has developed a miniaturized electronic ultrafine particle sizing device, or mini-eUPS. This device utilizes many of the functions of equipment currently used in laboratory environments to test and measure UFP levels in aerosols, but has been miniaturized to maximize mobility and ease of use. The small size and weight of the device allow a unique ability for UFP concentration measurements to be taken during flight with a small UAV. Our group completed all the design, fabrication and planning to bring this technology from conceptual prototype to a working model capable of flight and routine use for UFP measurements. During the duration of the project we utilized a 3-D printer to introduce a unique design for a lightweight, aerodynamic casing to house the entire device and its’ control system, designed several UAV’s for comparative data collection, and completed field testing to validate data accuracy and system function. Some testing requirements remain before measurements are within an acceptable accuracy. The use of flight as a method of data collection makes this device a first of its kind, allowing concentrations of UFPs to be collected and eventually predicted in 3 dimensions.
Yaw Amoatin, Adam Hrycyk, and Alex Yoon
Richmond has a large quantity of trees which currently cannot be efficiently monitored for individual tree health. This lack of monitoring results in high mortality rates. It is to the benefit of the city financially that these trees are saved instead of having to be replaced. The solution includes the delivery of an Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) with modified camera technology for image processing and log identification utilizing Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) values as numerical indicators of health. A low-cost, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) compliant system was required for solution implementation and budget appropriations. It was decided aerial imagery provided a fast, efficient method of data collection for arborist deployment to key zones. Successful implementation of the system includes aerial imaging of tree canopies and relevant flagging of unhealthy trees for further inspection. Automated waypoint navigation was not able to be implemented in the current iteration due to software complications. Appropriate FAA exemptions and pilot licenses still need to be acquired for the legal deployment of the system. The UAS will provide fast data collection to enable preventative action by the arborists to save trees and improve overall quality of life in the city.
Nicolás Andrade and Aaron Jones
With the ever-increasing demand for more mobile bandwidth and higher data transfer rates, expansion into the Terahertz spectral range is inevitable. Modern Wi-Fi technologies (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz) theoretically support data rates up to only a few Gbps. A newly emerging technology, Light Fidelity (Li-Fi) provides communication with potentially Tbps rates through LED lighting. One unique benefit of Li-Fi is that it can be used simultaneously for illumination and high-speed, secure (line-of-sight) communication. Li-Fi would be best utilized in conjunction with Wi-Fi and mobile LTE networks as it is more suitable for one-way short range communication due to relatively high power needed for the lighting source.
Combining wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) and frequency division multiplexing (FDM), this project focused on realizing a high-speed optical communication link for a cost comparable to a Wi-Fi router. By processing data using a microcontroller with an Ethernet connection, a 52 Mbps link was demonstrated [three frequencies (n=3) for each of the primary colors (Red, Green, Blue) — a total of nine (3n) channels]. Data transfer rates up to 486 Mbps were shown to be viable with this three-color three-frequency system.
Integrating data processing and multiplexing/demultiplexing functionalities on a single chip would eliminate the bottleneck imposed by the microcontroller clock speed. Additionally, this Li-Fi system can be scaled up by adding a yellow LED, which would also improve the quality of white light, and by adding more carrier frequencies. With these improvements, Li-Fi stands to provide high-speed communications through LED lighting.
Hunter Andrews, Karson Clark, and Jared O’Hara
Valves, such as the ones shown in Figure 1 and Figure 2, are very common throughout Navy vessels in systems which transport various materials such as water, steam, and oil. Over their lifetime the valve Stellite seatings are rehabilitated by being ground down to create a smooth surface. If the seating surface is ground to a thickness lower than 3/32 in, the valve will be considered inoperable. It was necessary to design a portable device that can be used by Newport News Shipbuilding to measure the thickness of Stellite coatings on valve seating surfaces. A device that could be used on both globe and gate valves was to be designed and prototyped as a proof of concept.
Throughout the design process a decision was made to focus on gate valves due to the financial and time limitations placed on the project. The final design proposes the use of ultrasonic technology to measure the valve seat thickness. The prototyped mechanism demonstrates the ability to allow the probe to maintain constant contact with the valve seating throughout its measurement. This portable apparatus will be able to save Newport News Shipbuilding resources by increasing the longevity of its valves used throughout the operable life of their ships. As work on the project continues, an ultrasonic transducer needs to be purchased and the design needs to be adapted to be used with globe valves to fulfill the initial project requirements. By completing these tasks, the design will be able to be used in the field by Newport News Shipbuilding workers.
Taylor Atkinson, Dana Klein, Palmer Matthew, and Austin Pleconis
Disposable diapers are prone to accidental damage during use, since a caregiver may accidentally rip or puncture the elastic material. To reduce the incidence of material failure, the toughness of the apertured elastic trilaminate body paneling material needs to be improved without reducing the elasticity, breathability, and material cost. A “tougher” material was defined as a material with greater tensile strength and puncture resistance than standard, commercial product. The design team took a two-pronged approach to this problem. First, experiments were designed to quantify the effects of altering the die temperature, the resin blend, the cross directional stretch activation depth, and production line speed on toughness. A 2-level, full factorial analysis revealed that the process variables that had the largest effect were activation depth and die temperature. While altering the resin blend improved toughness, the trilaminate elasticity suffered. Decreasing both activation depth and die temperature resulted in a 19.7% greater puncture resistance than the original material, which was able to withstand 17.5% greater tensile load. However, only a minimal increase in its elongation at break, 5.7%, was achieved. Decreasing only activation depth provided a better balance of the desired characteristics: an 11.5% increase in puncture resistance, 16.1% increase in tensile load, and 14.6% increase in elongation. The experimental data collected was used to supplement a finite element analysis model of altered aperture orientation. This showed that rotating the oval aperture by 90° reduced the maximum stress by 62.3%. These findings will pave the way for further elastic laminate material improvements.
Mengyu Bai, Andrew Sainz, and So Kim
The RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) based Navigation System is built and designed to allow both commercial and recreational drivers to know and monitor traffic patterns while on the road. By using the RFID based Navigation System, drivers will receive real time data to aid navigation which is a major benefit especially in an emergency situation. Further studies of the RFID technology will potentially open doors to the development of autonomous vehicles. The RFID based Navigation application is available for Android devices, and it presents drivers with real time, current data to aid navigation across a terrain in the shortest possible route. The server/database coordinates information exchange from vehicles to drivers. This is shown on the web based and mobile application. The RFID Reader uses the received RFID tag data to determine specific locations, directions, time, and the speed of the vehicle. Our team went on to divide the system design into three categories: the Android system application, the server/database, and the RFID Reader connection. For the purposes of our project, we used an RC car to test the navigation system. Our team used 50 RFID tags, and we were able to accomplish our goal of presenting navigation data in real time. While our results proved that the system is accurate in real time, covering all roadways will require a large amount of tags leading to time related issues.
Anurag Baral, Rehman Chaudry, and Andree Cochran
(1) unmet need - engineering problem being addressed: Approximately fifteen percent of ketchup, detergent and shampoo still remain on the walls of storage containers. Due to this problem, billions of dollars are wasted annually. (2) project deliverables: Models are created to represent working prototypes that are more efficeint for the products. (3) constraints: Glass bottles are less expensive to produce, but are more expensive to transport. (4) approach: Ketchup, shampoo and detergent droplets were placed onto plastics to test which plastic best suited the products. Then, the plastics were coated with candlewax, car wax, beeswax, Alkyl Ketene Dimer (AKD) and NeverWet. Further testing showed little improvement was made testing with plastics. Next the products were tested on glass, which showed substantial improvements. Then we used the same coating technique as we had with the plastics, which showed further antiwetting improvements. (5) results: Glass coated with candle wax and NeverWet gave the best results for all of the products. (6) issues: The production lines would endure problems throughout the coating process. NeverWet is a toxic chemical that can cause harm when consumed. (7) impact: We are trying to remove as much of the product from the containers as much as possible to reduce waste and improve efficiency. Consumers will be more satisfied knowing they are getting the entire product they paid for, which in return should benefit the suppliers.
Kranthidhar Bathula, Suraj Kandalam, Akhil Kolluri, and Roshni Malik
Patients with malignancies in the central airways often experience significant breathing difficulties due to occlusion of the airways. One common palliative treatment option for this is a stent placement procedure. While patients often experience immediate symptom relief, long term use can result in the formation of granulation tissue, causing restenosis of the airway. The objective of this project is to design and prototype a modification to the Boston Scientific Ultraflex partially-covered stent in order to reduce granulation tissue and maintain airway patency. Deliverables include the detailed design, a working prototype, and supporting data. The main product specifications include effectiveness in reducing granulation, coating adhesion, and stent stability. The final design for this product consists of a paclitaxel-SIBS coating placed at the uncovered ends of the stent by using a dip coating method. This coating was tested in many ways, including for its effectiveness in reducing cell attachment, release kinetics, coating stability, and cytotoxicity. This testing has shown that the SIBS-paclitaxel coating is effective in reducing cell attachment in-vitro, the coating is stably adhered onto the stent in a moving environment, and that paclitaxel is steadily released from the coating. These results are very promising for future in-vivo studies.
David Bauserman, Abigail Haines, Laynold Pilson, and Madelaine Simmons
The objective of the VCU Neuroguard project was to design and build a device to shield all medical personnel in Operating Room-33, at MCV Hospital, from radiation during neurological procedures that utilize a Siemens Artis Zee biplane X-ray machine. The initial goal was to develop a fully working prototype but due to monetary reasons this goal was adjusted to a working prototype minus the radiation shielding materials.
There were many requirements for the VCU Neuroguard set forth by the customer and by the team, including the ability to shield all the medical staff in the room, the ability for them to work without it getting in the way, sterilization, visibility, the ability to move with the operating table, and weight restrictions. In the beginning, the team observed procedures, researched existing devices, studied the Xray machine and operating room set up. The team then conducted various materials research, utilized SolidWorks®, and radiation shielding calculations to complete the design.
The final prototype (seen below) is a free standing barrier constructed of 80/20® aluminum framing and surrogate radiation shielding materials that attaches to and moves in conjunction with the operating table. Further work on this project will include the implementation of functional radiation shielding materials and development of a permanent mechanism to attach the device to the operating table as well as adding adaptability for use in other operating environments. A fully functional Neuroguard will protect medical professionals and alleviate the use of cumbersome personal protective equipment.
Michael Berger, Galen Kellner, David Le, and Anthony Renninger
Falls within the Older Adult community lead to roughly 734,000 hospital admissions annually with 87% attributed to walker use. In order to reduce the amount of falls due to walker use our objective was to create a system that detects an increased likelihood of a fall occurring, notifies the user of improper positioning, and can intervene by application of an automatic braking system to stabilize the walker; effectively training the user to have a more proper walking form and posture reducing the risk of a fall. In order to accomplish this goal, final deliverables included a working prototype and validation test results demonstrating proper specifications for notification of position, reduction of acceleration, and low light visibility. The final design incorporated an ultrasonic sensor, accelerometer, and ambient light sensor to detect user activity, position, and brightness. Then, communicated through an Arduino microcontroller to determine if safe thresholds had been breached, resulting in the activation of two solenoids and arrest of the walker’s movement. LEDs illuminate in low light environments to ease the burden of finding the walker in the dark, as well as illuminate the path of motion when the walker was in use. The prototype utilized the best selling walker available on the market, and was assessed by team members for efficacy. Final results demonstrate proper notification of position, increased visual acuity in response to environmental stimuli, and a reduced acceleration due to the braking system.
Jessica L. Bishop, Nathaniel P. Kirby, T. Ryan Beaver, and Alisa B. Sverdlov
Raynaud’s condition is a disease in which blood vessels in the extremities constrict in response to emotional stimuli and cold environments. This results in extreme discoloration and pain in the regions affected (Figure 1), and can cause permanent tissue damage. Although there is no current cure for this disease, there are several methods of pain mitigation including the use of drugs, gloves, avoiding exposure to cold weather, and using heating devices. However, these solutions are only temporary. Most gloves do not provide adequate insulation or have a short battery life.
This project is aimed at mediating the negative physiological effects of Raynaud’s disease by developing a thermo-regulated device to regulate the temperature of the extremities. The final prototype utilizes a micro-controller that activates a steel-fiber heating element placed inside of a glove. The closedloop control reacts to a thermocouple signal that measures the user’s hand temperature at several strategic locations. This ensures that the heating element is activated when the hand approaches dangerously low temperature and is deactivated when the temperature of the hand returns to a safe temperature. This automated process eliminates the need for the wearer to manually control the heat setting, while maximizing battery life. Additionally, undesired side effects of overheating such as sweating are avoided.
A device of this nature would revolutionize the world of a person suffering from Raynaud’s disease. Other applications of the gloves include first responders operating in extreme weather. Future studies include optimization of the materials to maximize dexterity without sacrificing insulation.
Cory Bleistein, Dylan Dawson, Anton Rabinky, and Marshall Smith
The purpose of this project was to develop a better, safer, more efficient system for Sealeze to manufacture spiral-wrapped strip brushes in a continuous fashion at a variable diameter. The end results produced a finalized drawing sheet for machining and production, numerous design variations within CAD drawings, and extensive mechanical evaluations and analyses proving the strength and capabilities of the proposed design. In production of these brushes, various different materials will be used for the core, backing, and filament, creating a need for a mandrel that will be strong enough to handle the most resiliant of materials while maintaining a narrow margin of tolerances for numerous manufacturing jobs while remaining man-portable and minutely adjustable. During the development stage of the project a traditional approach of design, analyze, review, consult, repeat was employed where meetings with the sponsor organization were frequent as progress was made through numerous iterations before arriving at the final design. Despite production of a functioning design that met the sponsor's desires and initial project development goals, the project is marked by its large size and possible issues of binding and seizing if not properly employed. In addition, the design does not function adequately at small sizes, limiting the range of application. Despite this, based on long term production, the mandrel will increase safety and efficiency for the manufacture of custom-sized, spiral-wrapped strip brushes in an industrial setting.
Devyn Borum, Joshua Clarke, Lorenzo Dingcong, and Korey Smith
The primary project goal was to reduce the cost per unit of the structural foundation (sublane) of the Route 66 miniature bowling lane by 10%. Additional project goals were: 1) reducing the cubic volume for shipping, (2) reducing the lane assembly time, and 3) maintaining current 10 to 15-year product life. Ten sublane sections are used to assemble two lanes of a Route 66 unit. The project constraints included: 1) maintaining outside height, width and length of the sublanes, 2) load bearing strength greater than or close to the current design and 3) no significant change in manufacturing processes. After engineering analysis of the current design, material properties, and material costs, the best solution was to reduce thickness of the current Oriented Strand Board (OSB) material from a custom 1.375” thickness to a standard material thickness of 1.25”. In addition, three modifications were made to meet the design constraints: 1) increasing the length of the cross-wise vertical boards by 0.25”, 2) extending the length of the kickback brackets by 0.125” and 3) increasing the thickness of the sublane particle board material from 1” to 1.25” to maintain the appropriate height. Final material cost savings obtained was 54%. Additionally, weight was reduced by 13% (234.6 lbs.) exceeding target of 6%, cubic volume by 57 cf3 (2.4%) less that target of 15%, and shipping length by 22% (157”) exceeding 15% project target.
John Boushra, Kyle Duncan, Aleksandr Kogan, and Giang Pham
Data Centers are facilities used to house a large number of computer systems and their associated components, such as telecommunications and data storage systems. Nowadays many organizations depend on the reliable operation of their data centers for their day to day business operations. Data centers are designed with redundant and backup power supplies, redundant data communications connections, robust cybersecurity protocols and very strict environmental controls. The many computer systems held in a typical data center generate large heat loads that need to be continuously removed with high grade air conditioning systems. Anthem currently owns a large corporate data center in Richmond that generates a large amount of waste heat that is currently dissipated into the environment. The objective of this project is to design a system that will help Anthem reuse some or most of the waste heat generated by the data center, possibly using it to heat the adjoining office building. The proposed system would not only reduce Anthem’s energy costs to heat the office building but it would decrease Anthem’s overall environmental footprint. The solution that the team decided upon is to add a second condenser bundle to an already existing centrifugal chiller. This would allow for a higher-grade heat to be produced. This hot water would then be piped to a coil within the make-up air handler units and the outside air that would normally be heated by natural gas will now be heated by the hot water. The air passing through the coil would now be hot usable air and thus able to be distributed throughout the building.
Gerard Briones, David Igou, and Aaron Throckmorton
Capital One has embarked on a journey of exposing useful services as RESTful APIs that can be utilized seamlessly by applications and clients. The purpose of this project was to develop an API framework that can be easily molded and deployed to reinforce this endeavor, standardizing the access and use of these services for every developer. This framework was built with a modern programming language, Golang, and excels in performance, scalability, and efficiency. A working prototype and proof of concept serve as the deliverables for this project, with notable constraints in the type of architecture (REST) used for the framework as well as the programming language (Golang) used to create it. An existing framework, GoRestful, was used as a foundation for the project, with the team adding three key features to address important crosscutting concerns. Versioning, the capability to separate and specify different versions of a given service, was achieved through the creation of custom headers to indicate which version of the resource was requested. Aspect oriented programming, the power to modify the behavior of existing code without directly modifying it, was accomplished by wrapping customized functions with the existing logic of the framework. Dependency management, the capacity to streamline and handle dependencies on external modules, was addressed by integrating the GoDep library which manages the project’s dependencies through simple commands. This project elucidates a design to standardize and simplify the use of web services through a solid API framework built on a cutting edge programming language.
Carolina Andrea Mercado Buelvas, Chance Parrish, and Rohit Sharma
Evonik Industries currently loses approximately 50 tons of polyether product to wastewater washes annually. Evonik has requested an industrially viable solution to maximize the recovery of the lost product in the current process. It was required that the solution have a one year payback period, and be in compliance with current regulatory policies. Literature sources showed that salt is a commonly used agent to force the separation of polyether-water mixtures. Using this information, a method was developed using a salt already present in the process to induce a phase separation and to recover the polyether. An empirical multilinear refractive index model was developed to determine the polyether content in treated samples, while thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) was used to determine the salt content. A series of preliminary tests followed trends observed in academia, which claimed that salt composition and temperature had an effect on the amount of polyether recovered. A design of experiment (DoE) was performed on three classes of Evonik’s polyether to determine the optimum conditions for product recovery on a bench scale. Using the optimal recovery region from the DoE, a scale up was performed, and two other tests were performed to examine the effect of reducing the water used in the washes. In both cases, 88-99% of the polymer could be recovered, although the reduced-water trials required an order of magnitude less salt than the full-wash trials. From these results, it is expected approximately $130,000 of product could be recovered annually with an initial investment of $46,500.
Zach Canfield, Ruqaia Suleman, Jasmine Wang, and James Westbrook
SUEZ Environnement’s Densadeg XRC™ is a high throughput water clarification unit capable of removing total suspended solids (TSS) with the aid of a high density ballast material. The ballast material is separated from the waste solids through a hydrocyclone and recycled into the system. Separation is inefficient and the unit experiences loss of ballast at 7 to 14 lbs per million gallons of treated water through the overflow of the hydrocyclone. Currently, ballast must be added at the loss rate to maintain the proper concentration to remove TSS. This requires that water treatment plants must provide storage space for ballast material, manpower to add the ballast, and a method to measure ballast concentration. To recover ballast material, a scale model of the overflow of the hydrocyclone was constructed and an angled pipe was added to settle the ballast into a collection sump. The effects of angle and linear flow velocity in the settling pipe were tested in a Design of Experiment (DOE) analysis to determine the critical process parameters. The maximum linear velocity in the settling pipe to settle ballast was also determined and used as the design criteria for the pilot scale. The results of this study will provide a basis for engineers from SUEZ to begin a long-term study of the economic impacts of using this ballast recovery method. Success in this project will allow SUEZ to provide this solution as an addition to the existing and future Densadeg XRC™ units.
Amanda Carter, Lara Hamid, Harini Muralikrishnan, and Bethlehem Solomon
This VCU Chemical and Life Science Engineering student team is designing a tabletop gel encapsulation machine to produce ~50 capsules per minute enabling rapid changeover for research and development purposes for Pfizer Consumer Healthcare. The preliminary design is based on reverse engineering of the large-scale encapsulation machine. Building from an initial prototype that included die rolls with variable rotation speed control and temperature control, the team identified and designed additional components to produce soft gel capsules: (1) producing gelatin ribbons from molten gelatin, (2) synchronizing the injection of medicine and capsule formation, and (3) ensuring that the capsules seal properly. While the large-scale machine requires a minimum batch size of 25 kg melt gelatin melt, the current design would produce hundreds of capsules from ~0.1 kg of melt gelatin.
The team’s resulting design is shown in the image below. With this design the team was able to produce gelatin ribbons from molten gelatin, time the injection of model fluid with capsule formation, and create the ability to produce ~50 capsules per minute using ~0.1 kg of melt gelatin. Future work will address sealing the capsules with heated die rolls, increasing the automation of the overall process, transitioning from the model fluid to medicine, and reducing the speed (rpm) of the die rolls.
Andrew Casalenuovo, Andrew Rubio, Charles Hockett, and Peter Donaldson
The goal of this project was to continue the development of a temporary rail system for a robotic tank inspection device. The tanks to be inspected are in a hazardous environment that is dangerous to work in and navigate. A remotely controlled robot could reduce the need for manual labor in the tanks to initial setup, final removal, and touch ups. Similar setups have been created for inspecting tanks, but they are permanent installations and are meant only for inspections.
The goal of the current phase of the project was to employ a new concept for supporting the rail system, create a working prototype, and analyze the effects of loads on the design. The rail system must be economical, quickly deployable, and safe. By modifying a spring compressor, a bracket was created that securely clamps to a tank service flange. From the bracket, a hanger was attached that allows PVC to be used as the rail for the inspection robot. This design is an improvement in terms of ease of installation and removal, practicality, and simplicity. Some issues to be resolved include decreasing flange-to-rail clearance, making the rail more rigid, and wiring the robot to the cart that traverses the rails. When the system is put to use, it will create better working conditions for many laborers.
Jarett Chaine, Nathan Ellingson, and Herve Iradukunda
Fighting highly dynamic and unpredictable structure fires can be very challenging and dangerous for firefighters. They need full situational awareness of the fire as it evolves. In these situations, it is difficult for firefighters to gain insight on whether they are winning or losing the battle against the fire. By gathering thermal images of a burning structure, our Thermal Imaging System will be able to provide real time data to help first responders mitigate risks associated with unpredictable fire dynamics.
The FAA is currently modifying and creating more regulations to address integrating UAVs with the existing aviation network. This makes it difficult for us to test our full system because we do not have the proper permits necessary to fly our aircraft. Another limitation we have is testing the thermal camera system with actual fire due to potential safety issues.
Our approach when designing our system was to design and implement separate functional subsystems that could be integrated together to create the full system. Our unique solution incorporates a highly agile UAV with a thermal imaging camera and custom software which collects, manages, and stores data received from the UAV. The system will also provide real time analysis and trends of received data.
We hope that our thermal imaging system can help provide fire fighters with critical information that they would otherwise not have access to. With this information, fire fighters will be able to make more informed decisions when responding to a fire emergency.