SURE: Chemical Engineering

Click on the title for full description of SURE 2016 projects in Chemical Engineering.

CHEM-001:   Novel plasma-catalyst process for CO2 conversion in liquid media
Professor: Sylvain Coulombe
E-mail: sylvain [dot] coulombe [at] mcgill [dot] ca
Telephone: 514-398-5213
Website

Research Area: Plasma processes for CO2 upcycling.


Description:  Prof. Coulombe’s group develops plasma processes and equipment for material recovery and energy applications. CO2 emissions from industrial plants (eg. Cement plants, steel smelters) and combustion engines are major anthropogenic sources of this greenhouse gas. An extensive amount of work is done throughout the world to capture and sequestrate CO2, but also to convert it to other useful chemicals at or near the emission source, thus closing the CO2 loop. In this particular project, a novel plasma reactor configuration for the conversion of CO2 bubbled in liquid media will be investigated. The ideal candidate for this project is a Senior Chemical Engineering student who demonstrates a keen interest for sustainable chemical processing, and has completed the CHEE543 Plasma Engineering course. This candidate also enjoys laboratory work and is a handy person. The candidate will work under the co-supervision of Prof. Coulombe and one of his PhD researchers.

Tasks:  - Finalize plasma reactor construction - Set up gas and liquid phase analysis protocols - Perform experiments and analyses

Deliverables:  - Biweekly reports to supervisor and research group - Poster or seminar at Chemical Engineering Research Day (Fall 2016) - Final report

Number of positions: 1
Academic Level: Year 1, Year 2, Year 3

CHEM-002:   Porous Plasma Deposited Thin Organic Coatings Containing Metals for Catalysis
Professor: Pierre-Luc Girard-Lauriault
E-mail: pierre-luc [dot] girard-lauriault [at] mcgill [dot] ca
Telephone: 514-398-4006
Website

Research Area: Plasma Science


Description:  A strong electric potential applied to a gas can cause ionization and create what is generally referred to as a “cold plasma”. Such plasmas contain energetic electrons that can trigger chemical reactions while remaining relatively close to room temperature. Hydrocarbon gasses introduced in a plasma can polymerize and form organic layers on surfaces exposed to the plasma. Mixing the hydrocarbon gas with other gasses such as ammonia, carbon dioxide or even metallocenes, allows the incorporation of heteroatoms or metals in the organic layer. The ability to generate a wide array of gas mixture composition allows for the preparation of a wide array of coatings with tunable composition. In the right processing conditions, theses layers can even be made porous. The composition and morphology and such layers makes them ideal candidates for applications in catalysis or as electrodes in flow batteries. The project will first involve the preparation of plasma deposited organic coatings of various compositions and their surface chemical characterization. A methodology and analysis plan will then be developed to determine performance as a catalyst layer. The candidate should demonstrate scientific curiosity as well as maturity and autonomy. This project may lead to a Masters project.

Tasks:  - Deposition of thin organic coatings using plasma technology. - Surface analysis and characterization of the deposits. - Literature search. - Evaluation of the effects of ageing.

Deliverables:  Plasma deposited set of samples and their characterization.

Number of positions: 1
Academic Level: Year 1, Year 2, Year 3

CHEM-003:   Pickering emulsions in the desalting of crude oil
Professor: Reghan Hill
E-mail: reghan [dot] hill [at] mcgill [dot] ca
Telephone: 514-668-9134

Research Area: Soft matter and nanotechnology


Description:Synthesize a model Pickering emulsion and characterize it using electroacoustic and dielectric relaxation spectroscopy.

Tasks:Extract asphaltenes from bitumen, and mix with hydrocarbon and water nanoparticle dispersions. Correlate electroacoustic and dielectric properties with emulsion composition to help select viable means of breaking stable dispersions.

Deliverables:Successful extraction, purification and characterization of asphaltenes from bitumen. Evidence of synthesizing a stable Pickering emulsion from asphaltenes, dispersed particulate, and continuous liquid components. Comparisons or electroacoustic and dielectric spectra from model emulsions with those from crude oil field samples.

Number of positions: 1
Academic Level: Year 3

CHEM-004:   Interactions between immune cells and alginate microbeads
Professor: Corinne Hoesli
E-mail: corinne [dot] hoesli [at] mcgill [dot] ca
Telephone: 514-398-4275

Research Area: Bioengineering


Description:  Islet transplantation has emerged as a potential long-term treatment for type 1 diabetes. One of the main limitations of this therapy is the need for lifelong immunosuppression after the transplantation to avoid islet rejection. Islet encapsulation could reduce the need for immunosuppression by protecting the islets from the host immune system. However, the encapsulation materials or the encapsulated islets can activate an inflammatory response. Monocytes are cells of the immune system that play a key role in this inflammatory reaction to the encapsulated islets. Our laboratory has developed a new emulsification-based method to encapsulate pancreatic islets. However, the effects of the emulsion-generated beads on monocyte cell activation have not yet been studied. The objective of this project is to study the interactions between monocytes and emulsion-generated beads, with or without encapsulated pancreatic cells. This project will assess the effect of different encapsulation methods (conventional versus emulsion) on the activation of the monocytes. The effect of the concentration of the encapsulation materials will also be studied. The activation of the monocytes will be determined by measuring cell surface protein expression by flow cytometry, as well as by the cytokine secretion profile. The properties of the emulsion-generated beads will be assessed by measuring the gel porosity by reverse size exclusion chromatography, by measuring the surface topography by atomic force microscopy, as well as the bead zeta potential. The results of these experiments will seek to relate the bead properties to monocyte adhesion to the beads and monocyte cell activation.

Tasks:  cell encapsulation, mammalian cell culture, size exclusion chromatography, atomic force microscopy, fluorescence microscopy, measuring electrokinetic mobility, enzyme-linked immunoassays, flow cytometry, experimental design, data analysis, data presentation at group meetings, collaboration with research groups in chemical engineering and medicine at McGill

Deliverables:  Report on the effect of alginate bead properties on monocytes

Number of positions: 1
Academic Level: Year 1

CHEM-005:  CO2 methanation - Experimental and theoretical study.
Professor: Jan Kopyscinski
E-mail: jan [dot] kopyscinski [at] mcgill [dot] ca
Telephone: 514-398-4276
Website

Research Area: Catalysis, kinetic modeling, Methanation reaction


Description:  The Catalytic Process Engineering (CPE) laboratory is engaged in the development and understanding of catalyzed processes and reactor engineering concepts dedicated to sustainable energy conversion technologies. In this work, the students will work on the CO2 methanation reaction. In detail the tasks include catalysts preparation (e.g., impregnation methods, sieving) and characterization, activity test with a newly developed fixed bed reactor and modeling with Athena Visual Studio. In addition, the work include data analysis, literature review and preparation of a final report and poster presentation. The students will work closely together with other graduate students from the laboratory.

Tasks:  1. Catalyst preparation 2. Catalyst characterization 3. Catalyst activity measurements 4. Data analysis and kinetic modeling.

Deliverables:  Weekly reports, final report and and SURE poster presentation.

Number of positions: 2
Academic Level: Year 3

CHEM-006:  Microengineered smart materials for tissue engineering
Professor: Christopher Moraes
E-mail: chris [dot] moraes [at] mcgill [dot] ca
Telephone: 514-398-4278
Website

Research Area: Microfabrication, tissue engineering, smart materials


Description:  Engineering biological tissues, either for replacement in humans or to develop controlled study platforms in the lab requires careful positioning of cells within a three-dimensional hydrogel matrix. Scaling these approaches up to allow positioning of individual cells at the tissue level is extremely challenging, and of vital importance in both understanding diseases and developing solutions. Smart materials respond to applied stimuli, and can be microfabricated to create a broad range of shapes on demand. Although these materials have been studied for decades, the possibility of using them to engineer better tissues has not yet been explored. In this project, the student will investigate various methods of processing smart materials on the micro-scale, and use the resulting ‘smart scaffolds’ to engineer a contractile tissue with spatial control over individual cells. These precisely-designed tissues will be used immediately to study how disease progress through tissue remodeling, but more generally, this project will explore and develop new tools to engineer artificial tissues and organs. The student will gain experience in materials processing, characterization, cell culture, and microscopy; and will require the student to work closely with materials scientists, engineers and biologists.

Tasks:  Literature review, materials synthesis, microfabrication, cell culture, microscopy.

Deliverables:  The student will design, characterize and test a novel tissue microfabrication technique capable of scaled-up production of precision-engineered biological tissues.

Number of positions: 1
Academic Level: Year 3

CHEM-007:  Engineered microscale lung-on-chip bioreactors
Professor: Christopher Moraes
E-mail: chris [dot] moraes [at] mcgill [dot] ca
Telephone: 514-398-4278
Website

Research Area: Microfabrication, organs-on-a-chip, biomedical engineering


Description:  Fibrosis of the lungs currently affects 1 in every 2500 people, and causes stiffening of the tissue, making it difficult to breathe. The causes for this ultimately fatal disease remain unknown, and although several treatment options are now being developed to slow down disease progression, the only cure is a complete lung transplant. Developing therapies is complicated by the fact that the mechanical act of breathing itself may protect us from the disease, by influencing activity at the cellular level. Hence, identifying new therapies is challenging, when culturing cells in standard flat, plastic and mechanically static dishes. To address this challenge, this project aims to develop a microengineered bioreactor capable of applying dynamic breathing patterns of stress to high-throughput engineered human "organs-on-a-chip". These bioreactors will ultimately be used to identify high-value therapeutic targets for further study and development.

Tasks:  3D printing, microfabrication, biomaterials synthesis, cell culture, microscopy

Deliverables:  The student will modify a commercial bioreactor to allow for high-throughput testing of three-dimensional lung cultures, for use in biopharmaceutical development.

Number of positions: 1
Academic Level: Year 3

CHEM-008: Pilot scale testing of Catalytic Ozonation for the removal of Contaminants of Emerging Concerns and toxicity
Professor: Viviane Yargeau
E-mail: viviane [dot] yargeau [at] mcgill [dot] ca
Telephone: 514-398-2273
Website

Research Area: Environmental and process engineering


Description:  The stringent regulations on disinfection and the recent implementation of guidelines for the mitigation of the release of contaminants of emerging concern (such as pharmaceuticals and endocrine disruptors) along with wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) effluent generate a lot of interest for advanced wastewater treatment technologies. Ozonation is a promising approach for such applications but improvement is still required in order to efficiently remove CECs and toxicity during disinfection or tertiary treatment of wastewater. The addition of a catalyst has been identified as a viable strategy. Our on-going research investigates the use of catalytic ozonation for wastewater treatment and in summer 2016, a pilot unit will installed at the La Prairie WWTP. This project offers an opportunity to be familiarized with the operation of wastewater treatment units (at pilot scale) and learn different ways of assessing the quality of wastewater.

Tasks:  The student will first perform a literature review on removal of CECs by catalytic ozonation, then will be trained on operating the catalytic ozonation pilot system designed for the project. The student will work in close collaboration with a Masters candidate in order to run tests at pilot scale at the La Prairie WWTP. The student will also be trained on various wastewater quality testing assays such as CECs concentration, general toxicity (Luminotox method) and disinfection (E.coli testing), which will afterwards be performed in the lab. The student will also participate in weekly research meetings and on a regular exchange with other members of the group, including our industrial partner.

Deliverables:  An assessment of the removal of CECs and toxicity during catalytic ozonation of wastewater at pilot scale.

Number of positions: 1
Academic Level: Year 2

CHEM-009: Block Copolymer Synthesis and Directed Self-assembly
Professor: Milan Maric
E-mail: milan [dot] maric [at] mcgill [dot] ca
Telephone: 514-398-4272

Research Area: polymers, soft materials


Description:  The goal of the project is to use controlled radical polymerization to make block copolymers. Specifically, gradient block copolymers, which are industrially advantageous, will be studied to see how a fuzzy interface affects the self-assembly of the block copolymer. The structures of the gradients will be directed by careful choice of a copolymer brush on the substrate. The resulting directed block copolymers will then be etched with e-beam lithographic to produce nano-sized domains on the substrate. Directed self-assembly of block copolymers is often cited as the next-generation of materials for microelectronic features, replacing photolithographic processes. Emphasis will be placed on incorporating functional groups into the block copolymers (electron donors/acceptors, biologically active groups) which could be useful for sensors, solar cells etc.

Tasks:  The student will synthesize block gradient copolymers. They will characterize the block copolymers for composition and molecular weight. They will learn to use the microfab facilities to spin-coat the polymers on to the substrate and then evaluate the morphology of the resulting block copolymers.

Deliverables:  The student is expected to write a report at the end of the summer as well as to present to the group their findings.

Number of positions: 1
Academic Level: Year 1, Year 2, Year 3

CHEM-010: Designing self-assembled 3D nanostructures for water treatment
Professor: Nathalie Tufenkji
E-mail: nathalie [dot] tufenkji [at] mcgill [dot] ca
Telephone: 514-398-2999
Website

Research Area: Environmental nanotechnology


Description:  2D nanomaterials such as graphene oxide (GO) are gaining increasing attention due to their superior specific surface area, as well as the ability to self-assemble into 3D structures such as layered paper-like materials and sponges due to their unique geometry. The rational assembly of nanosheets into 3D structures not only boosts their mechanical properties and durability, but also opens the door to a range of applications which would be unattainable using individual nanosheets. Recently, it has been shown that 3D nanostructures such as GO hydrogels and aerogels can be potentially used for advanced water and wastewater treatment; however, hydrogels solely comprised of GO do not possess the required chemical functionalities to tackle real-life water contaminations due to the complex nature and ever increasing variety of industrial and domestic contaminants. The main objective of this project is to process nanocomposite 3D hydrogels with superior mechanical properties and a wide variety of chemical functionalities for efficient and fast adsorption of classical and emerging water contaminants. A special emphasis will be put on functionalizing the hydrogels using various chemical and physical methods to tailor their surface for adsorption of contaminants of concern.

Tasks:  The student will be trained in a range of processing and analytical/laboratory techniques that will include: nanoparticle (NP) processing, dynamic light scattering (DLS) for the determination of NP average size, electrophoretic mobility (by Zetasizer) for the characterization of NP surface charge (zeta potential), quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation monitoring (QCM-D) to study the interaction of NPs with model surfaces and various self-assembly and processing techniques. After receiving the required training in the lab (first month), the student will start working more independently in processing of NPs and nanostructures and studying their capacity to adsorb water contaminants. The student will be introduced to a range of new areas including materials chemistry and environmental nanotechnology. There will be opportunities to continue this research as a graduate project in the future.

Deliverables:  A written report containing all relevant methods and results, as well as a brief literature review will be submitted.

Number of positions: 2
Academic Level: Year 3

CHEM-011: Antimicrobial activity of natural phytochemicals
Professor: Nathalie Tufenkji
E-mail: nathalie [dot] tufenkji [at] mcgill [dot] ca
Telephone: 514-398-2999
Website

Research Area: Biomedical engineering


Description:  The identification of novel antimicrobials that preclude the development of antibiotic resistance is emerging as an attractive means to target pathogenic bacteria. Several natural phytochemicals found in plants are known to have several health benefits including antimicrobial activity against pathogens that are of public concern. This project will examine the anti-microbial action of a natural compound and aim to determine the mechanisms of anti-microbial activity.

Tasks:  1. The student will become familiar with current literature on the subject of natural antimicrobial compounds. 2. The student will be trained in a range of areas that include: General microbiology techniques, selected molecular biology techniques (e.g, RNA, cDNA, qPCR), microscopy and general laboratory practices. The student will be given ample guidance in improving their written and oral presentation skills, which will be valuable for any future study/work environment. 3. After receiving the required initial training/skills in the lab (first month), the student will start working independently under the guidance of a postdoctoral fellow. This project is part of a study on antimicrobials involving a team of students and industry partners. The student will be introduced to a range of new research areas in biomedical engineering. There will be ample opportunities to continue this research as a graduate research project in the future.

Deliverables:  A final written report containing all relevant methods, brief literature review and results, as well as weekly progress reports will be submitted.

Number of positions: 1
Academic Level: Year 3

CHEM-012: Engineering a 3D printed artificial pancreas: characterisation of a sacrificial ink
Professor: Corinne Hoesli
E-mail: corinne [dot] hoesli [at] mcgill [dot] ca
Telephone: 514-398-4275

Research Area: Bioengineering


Description:  Pancreatic islet transplantation is a treatment for type 1 diabetes that may eliminate the need for insulin injections. Macroencapsulation devices protect the islets from rejection by the host immune system. However, these devices hinder adequate oxygen diffusion, leading to impaired insulin secretion and cell death. Islet oxygenation in macroencapsulation devices may be enhanced by 3D printing an artificial vascular network. Briefly, a vascular template is 3D printed with a carbohydrate glass sacrificial ink, embedded in a cell-laden gel, and then removed to leave hollow perfusable channels. The objective of this project is to characterise the properties of carbohydrate glass as a sacrificial ink to be used in an islet transplantation device. The short-term goals of the project are to determine the thermal and mechanical properties of various carbohydrate glass mixtures. These properties include the glass transition temperature, degradation temperature and hardness. Parameters such as sample preparation temperature and heating time will also be related to the carbohydrate glass properties. The results of this work could play a key role in optimising the 3D printing methodology for generating artificial vascular networks.

Tasks:  Sample preparation, differential scanning calorimetry, thermogravimetric analysis, microindentation techniques, experimental planning, data analysis

Deliverables:  Lab meeting presentation and final report

Number of positions: 1
Academic Level: Year 1, Year 2, Year 3

CHEM-013: Magnetic resonance imaging of encapsulated islets to treat diabetes
Professor: Corinne Hoesli
E-mail: corinne [dot] hoesli [at] mcgill [dot] ca
Telephone: 514-398-4275

Research Area: Bioengineering


Description:  Islet transplantation has emerged as a potential long-term treatment for type 1 diabetes. One of the main limitations to this approach is the need for chronic immunosuppression. To overcome this limitation, islets can be encapsulated in microbeads that create a barrier between the graft and the host immune system. Currently, encapsulated islets are transplanted into the abdominal cavity. Monitoring islet survival can be very challenging since the islets lodge randomly throughout the cavity. Moreover, it is difficult to assess islet survival and capsule stability in vivo without a surgical intervention. The objective of this project is to encapsulate nanoparticles that act as contrast agents in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), together with the islets. The presence of these nanoparticles will help determine the distribution of the capsules in the body after transplantation. Moreover, the nanoparticles could be used to deliver compounds that improve islet survival. The short-term goals of the project are to develop the nanoparticle encapsulation method, to quantify the relationship between the nanoparticle concentration and the MRI signal, and finally to determine the effect of the particles on cell survival. This project could have a significant impact on the treatment of diabetes.

Tasks:  Mammalian cell culture, nanoparticle encapsulation, coordination of communication with collaborators, cell viability assays, method development, experimental planning, data analysis, lab meeting presentations

Deliverables:  Lab meeting presentation and final report

Number of positions: 1
Academic Level: Year 1, Year 2, Year 3

CHEM-014: Carbon nanotube (CNT) based structures in microfluidic devices (2 projects)
Professor: Jean-Luc Meunier
E-mail: jean-luc [dot] meunier [at] mcgill [dot] ca
Telephone: 514-398-8331
Website

Research Area: Nanomaterials synthesis and plasma technologies


Description:  Microfluidic (MF) devices are starting to be studied and used for a variety of applications such MF fuel cells for portable electronics, MF chemical reactors on a chip, or sensors. Enhanced surface area in the microchannels can be generated for higher heat transfer or electrochemical activity by integrating a carbon nanotube (CNT) forest on the microchannel walls, then possibly functionalize chemically or "decorate" the CNT with active nanoparticles. The two projects will explore two options of integrating a CNT-forest structure in microchannels using wire-based and wall-based CNT forest growth, and will start characterizing some properties of these microchannels.

Tasks:  Student 1: Learn and apply our technique of direct growth of CNT forests using small individual SS wires instead of a full grid, the CNT-wires being then integrated in flow channels to be designed and tested. Preliminary tests involve the mechanical integrity of the CNT-forest in fluid flow, and possibly heat transfer enhancement as compared to a bare wire. Student 2: In this project, the microchannel SS walls are to act as the site of CNT-forest growth. It involves first the design of the microchannels in a way that 2 electrically independent CNT-covered walls are made available for possible microfluidic fuel cell applications, as well as allowing CNT growth. The project also involves learning and applying the CNT-growth technique, then characterizing first the integrity of the CNT-covered microchannel, and possibly some specific properties of the channels.

Deliverables:  -A literature review of some interesting applications of CNT-covered microchannel systems. -Ability to apply our direct CNT growth technique to produce small components covered with CNT-forests. -A design for the integration of the CNT-covered surface in a microchannel enabling preliminary mechanical and heat transfer characterization. -CNT-forest growth and preliminary testing of the CNT-forest covered microchannels characterizing first the quality of the mechanical attachment of the CNT-forest with fluid flow in the micro-channel. -Possibly, further characterization based on heat transfer, and/or chemical reactivity and/or electrochemical activity can be performed if "good" CNT-forest covered microchannels are made.

Number of positions: 2
Academic Level: Year 3

CHEM-015: Design and implementation of a primary ice-nanoparticle composite sample generator
Professor: Jean-Luc Meunier
E-mail: jean-luc [dot] meunier [at] mcgill [dot] ca
Telephone: 514-398-8331
Website

Research Area: Nanomaterials and plasma technologies


Description:  We currently generate graphene nanoflakes (GNF) and carbon nanotubes (CNT) that are functionalized in a plama environment in order to be fully and stably dispersed in water. We also had tests made on these nanomaterials dispersed in a polymer mattrix, making a solid nanocomposite with a very well-dispersed nanophase. These however did not show the expected enhancement in electrical conductivity, we believe because of polymer bridges between the nanoparticles. This project aims at creating a suitable ice-based nanocomposite structure that enables the mechanical and electrical characterization. The ice mattrix however needs to be bubble-free, in other words made only of primary ice avoiding the eutectic transformation through the design and use of a flowing water solidification scheme. The objective is to design and assemble a Peltier-based cooler solidification system to generate the nanocomposite ice samples. Upon generating nanocomposite samples, electrical and mechanical characterization will then be made.

Tasks:  Calculate the heat transfer requirements and design a water-flow cell using Peltier coolers in order to nucleate primary ice without the air-water eutectic transformation. Assemble and test the system for the preparation of ice test samples. Generate nanocomposite samples based on CNT and GNF nanofluids. Test mechanically samples having different nanofiller concentrations in 3-point bending mode, and possibly evaluate the percolation threshold for electrical conductivity.

Deliverables:  Heat transfer calculations that provide a proper design of the table-top primary-ice making machine using a small flow cell. An operating system able to generate ice and ice-nanocomposite samples. Preliminary mechanical and electrical tests performed on bare primary ice and ice-nanocomposites.

Number of positions: 1
Academic Level: Year 3

CHEM-016: Nucleation Phenomena of Gas Hydrate-Forming Systems
Professor:  Phillip Servio
E-mail:  phillip [dot] servio [at] mcgill [dot] ca
Telephone: 514-398-1026

Research Area:  Energy


Description:  Clathrate hydrates are ice-like solids composed of a guest gas encaged within a lattice of water molecules. Also known as gas hydrates, these crystalline solids have long been a source of trouble for the oil and gas industry, particularly in offshore projects. When light hydrocarbons, such as methane, ethane and propane, are contacted with water under high pressures and low temperatures, gas hydrates form. These solids form in blowout preventers, choke-lines, kill-lines and gas transmission lines. Gas hydrates that form in gas pipelines may accumulate and plug the pipe entirely, resulting in severe environmental, infrastructural, and economical consequences, in addition to jeopardizing the safety of working personnel. In order to better predict and understand hydrate formation, its crystallization process must be studied. Nucleation, which is the formation of microscopic clusters of hydrates that precedes the crystal growth event, is an intrinsically random event that has not been studied systematically. However, since nucleation is often the rate-limiting step in hydrate crystallization, it is imperative that engineers gain a better and more complete understanding of this phenomenon.

Tasks:  The student should have a strong background in multi-phase thermodynamics and crystallization processes. He/she will design and carry out experiments related to gas hydrate nucleation, both at atmospheric and high pressures. The time taken for a sample to nucleate (induction time) will be detected via thermal imaging. The effect of various factors, such as degree of sub-cooling and inhibitor addition, that influence the induction time of a sample will be investigated. He or she will work closely with a graduate student on this project but must also be able to work independently and diligently.

Deliverables:  Collection and analysis of experimental data for submission to his or her supervisor. The student may contribute to the writing of portions of a manuscript that may result in a publication.

Number of positions:  1
Academic Level: Year 2

CHEM-017: Nucleation Phenomena of Gas Hydrate-Forming Systems
Professor:  Phillip Servio
E-mail:  phillip [dot] servio [at] mcgill [dot] ca
Telephone: 514-398-1026

Research Area:  Energy


Description:  Clathrate hydrates are ice-like solids composed of a guest gas encaged within a lattice of water molecules. Also known as gas hydrates, these crystalline solids have long been a source of trouble for the oil and gas industry, particularly in offshore projects. When light hydrocarbons, such as methane, ethane and propane, are contacted with water under high pressures and low temperatures, gas hydrates form. These solids form in blowout preventers, choke-lines, kill-lines and gas transmission lines. Gas hydrates that form in gas pipelines may accumulate and plug the pipe entirely, resulting in severe environmental, infrastructural, and economical consequences, in addition to jeopardizing the safety of working personnel. In order to better predict and understand hydrate formation, its crystallization process must be studied. Nucleation, which is the formation of microscopic clusters of hydrates that precedes the crystal growth event, is an intrinsically random event that has not been studied systematically. However, since nucleation is often the rate-limiting step in hydrate crystallization, it is imperative that engineers gain a better and more complete understanding of this phenomenon.

Tasks:  The student should have a strong background in multi-phase thermodynamics and crystallization processes. He/she will design and carry out experiments related to gas hydrate nucleation, both at atmospheric and high pressures. The time taken for a sample to nucleate (induction time) will be detected via thermal imaging. The effect of various factors, such as degree of sub-cooling and inhibitor addition, that influence the induction time of a sample will be investigated. He or she will work closely with a graduate student on this project but must also be able to work independently and diligently.

Deliverables:  Collection and analysis of experimental data for submission to his or her supervisor. The student may contribute to the writing of portions of a manuscript that may result in a publication.

Number of positions:  1
Academic Level: Year 2