BP has been asking STEM undergraduate students across the UK to compete in their annual Ultimate Field Trip competition Since 2010. Teams of three students are asked to propose a solution to real-world global energy challenges.
This year’s challenge was based on water – How to address the effective, efficient and sustainable use of wastewater from the production of oil, gas and biofuels.
Students were tasked with developing a novel technical solution to reduce water usage or find an effective use for water produced from operations.
It’s hats off to the team from the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at the University of Sheffield, UK, who ran-away with the 2015 prize – a two week field trip to visit BP operations in Trinidad and Tobago.
Team OxiDANE, made up of fourth year Masters (MEng) students: Chiamaka Nnaedozie; Arona Othusitse; and Wai Choon Liong, developed a mobile water treatment facility that incorporates a novel thermal desalination unit.
Their solution, called ‘therMICROTM – Revolutionising Thermal Desalination’ uses microbubbles, a technology developed by Professor Will Zimmerman from Sheffield, to purify and recycle water from shale gas operations at a fraction of the energy cost by conventional means.
Team OxiDANE designed a modular plant which could be moved from site to site. The plant can be adapted to handle wastewater of varying composition and salinity.
The national final took place last week at the British Museum in London. OxiDANE faced tough competition from Imperial College London, the University of Birmingham and the University of Strathclyde.
Senior BP managers grilled each team on their presentations, posters and novel solutions before judging OxiDANE the winner. Suzy Style, head of Graduate Resourcing UK for BP, said: “It was an exceedingly well contested competition and all the teams produced innovative ideas in their attempt to overcome the problem and challenge.
“This year’s winners excelled and deserve their moment of glory. After all this hard work they can now embark upon a fantastic trip, gain an insight into BP’s operations and the wider oil and gas sector and also have some fun along the way.”
The Sheffield students carried out the project in addition to their MEng degree course.
Arona said that he has always been a problem-solver, and described the experience as “the perfect gateway to realistic industrial problems”. Whereas Wai Choon said that the challenge allowed the team members to draw together their different skill sets to develop solutions.
Chiamaka added: “It’s been an absolutely amazing experience. We got to meet a lot of wonderful people along the way and got to know BP through its employees. It really feels good to win because our hard work has paid off.
“I’d recommend the competition to anyone as it’s a great way for students to see life outside the lecture theatre.”
Congratulations to team OxiDANE. I’m sure they’ll enjoy their Caribbean trip and I wish them the best of luck with their careers – they’re already off to a winning start.