When discussing how we were to break up the workload for this project in its early stages, I knew that I could be of great help in one particular way. Being a civil engineer, I am familiar with hydraulics. In fact, at the time this project was assigned, another one of my classes, CEE 350, had just finished its hydraulics unit. So I knew right away that I could help in many ways. After discussing strengths and weaknesses with regard to each section, I decided that the energy analysis was best suited for me. I could incorporate Bernoulli’s equation and the Darcy-Weisbach equations, all of which I am now fairly familiar with.
Visiting the Abbott Power Plant was a fantastic experience. Being able to actually see the things we are learning in lecture and in lab being used in practice was amazing. Mike Brewer, one of the engineers we met with, was a very friendly and knowledgeable man. He showed us around the power plant and showed us the issue they are facing. The little bits of information he would throw in when talking to us made up a majority of what I learned over the course of this project. Chemistry and chemical engineering, weld technologies and procedures, circuitry, and types of fuels are just some of the things he educated us about. Experiences like these are how engineers truly learn.
Being a civil engineer, I am perplexed by all things construction. Anything from roads and highways to dams and bridges and even power plants interest me. Looking at the construction documents and mechanical drawings for the power plant, I felt right at home; knowing how to read and extract information from them made me proud. And now, with the little bits of information I learned on my own as well as what Mike Brewer had told us, I feel much more knowledgeable and I will feel much more comfortable on a construction site in the future.
This mini project allowed me to understand how water pipes are designed with an in-depth analysis on their construction, causes of failures as well as pressures and causes of flow impedance that the fluid inside the pipes are subjected to. In particular, it was interesting to observe the impact of Bernoulli's equation when calculating the flow rates, the causes of loss in energy, predominantly major and minor losses as well as providing proposed solutions that could actually be implemented in the Abbott power plant. More importantly, I really enjoyed learning how to implement engineering drawings and the fact that this project subjected me to a real-world problem and showed the practical impact of fluid mechanics. The visit to the Abbott power plant culminated in a very scientific approach by our team. We went to the power plant, understood the problem statement, as described by Mr Mike Brewer and were first hand subjected to a hissing sound which we identified as a cause of concern. Over the course of several brainstorming sessions we identified this to be either due to air entrainment or cavitation and started researching the scenarios that lead to the aforementioned. As a result we were able to carry out a detailed analysis to study the drawings provided to us by our classmate Gabe, and were able to understand that the cause of the hissing sound and major losses was in fact air entrainment. Moving forward, this project has certainly taught me the importance of stating my assumptions in the real world along with the importance of Bernoulli’s equation in overall energy analysis of components which include, but are not limited to the cooling system designs in addition to fuel and oil flow modeling in the automotive/aerospace industry in addition to aerodynamic component design.
I really enjoyed this mini-project as it gave me the opportunity to explore a topic that I might otherwise not have. Never before have I had a chance to learn about the workings of a power plant, and much less been able to work on a real-life problem of such significance. The project began by our team going to the Abbott Power Plant and learning about the problem relating to air in the pipes from Mr. Brewer. From there, our team met multiple times in order to get a better understanding of the problem at hand, and formulate a vector of attack. First we figured out the scale of the problem, and examined that specific area in the technical diagrams which were given to us, this was made much easier due to assistance from Gabe Braboy in class. After doing further work, we determined that the issue must be due to entrained air, and not cavitation. The pressure inside the pipe was just too large. After that we delegated out different parts of the project for completion, but meet other times in order to make sure that we each understood our roles, and if we needed any assistance fulfilling them. In the end, I am very proud that both my team and I accomplished. As I look into future endeavors, I will always carry forward what this mini-project has taught me. More specifically, it has taught me the importance of reducing complicated, large, and confusing systems into more understandable terms. We were again assisted in this by the work of our classmate, Gabe, but we had to decide what assumptions to make when we performed all of our important calculations. Beyond this, this project has shown me the versatility of the basic fluid mechanics principles which we have learned throughout the course of the semester, after all the most vital component we utilized was Bernoulli’s equation. I see this type of knowledge that was utilized by this project to be used in various diverse applications. From dam spillways, piping inside of a skyscraper, power plants, and aqueducts, the monitoring of pressure and entrained air within these structures is vitally important for the functioning of modern civilization.
With our second and final mini-project now completed, I can say that I definitely enjoyed working on this one more than the first. We deal with hands on fluid dynamics works within laboratory, but to be able to see a productive output of what we’ve seen in class with the power plant made this learning experience more impactful for me at least. This was also a unique opportunity that technically forced me to learn because of the grade, but one that I would have otherwise never put much thought into. The design and of pipelines is much more fragile than would have ever thought, and seeing how a small neglect and taking a shortcut on the blueprints can cause a problematic pipe like what happened a Abbott power plant made me have a greater appreciation for fluid dynamics. I can now very easily recite bernoulli's equation from the amount of calculations and manipulations I used throughout this project, and I understand how the variables affect each other and attribute to the end result. During calculations for the EGL and HGL lines I initially had trouble understanding the graph because I was under the impression that the inner friction of the pipe would slow down the velocity, when in actuality the pressure changes and the velocity remains unchanged. A lot of knowledge that I obtained through this project is likely more specific than I will use frequently, but the general knowledge I obtained I could definitely see myself applying this to more scaled down factors. Similar drawings and calculations could be had for a wide variety of applications from irrigation canals to water cooling systems in supercomputers. Our group definitely was all on the same page throughout the course of this project with each individual fulfilling their assigned role and being an effective communicator, and I will take things I learned in this project on with me into the future.