College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

ME’s Heindel to use X-rays to study hydrate formations

Ted Heindel

One mechanical engineering professor will use X-rays to study hydrate formations which can found in off-shore petroleum transport systems.

Ted Heindel, Bergles Professor of Thermal Science in ME, recently received a $100,488 grant from the Chevron Corporation for an eight-month project entitled An exploratory investigation of using X-rays to characterize hydrate formation.

“Hydrates can form under high pressure and low temperature environments common in off-shore petroleum transport operations,” said Heindel. “Once hydrates form, they can plug the piping system, which can require extensive downtime to remove the plug. Hydrate formation is difficult to characterize because of the challenging environments in which they form. This study will explore the use of X-ray flow visualization, including X-ray radiography and X-ray computed tomography, to help characterize hydrate formation in a laboratory setting.”

The research will take place in the Experimental Multiphase Flow Laboratory on the Iowa State campus where the X-ray Flow Visualization (XFloViz) Facility is located.

Mechanical engineering is well represented in the project. “This project is applicable to energy production systems, heat transfer and fluid flow, flow visualization, and equipment design and instrumentation, all areas of importance to a mechanical engineer,” Heindel said.

Heindel and his research team will set up his lab and collect preliminary data during Phase I of this project which will take place between now and March 2018. Then during Phase II, Heindel and his team will study “specific test conditions based on the findings of Phase I” which he expects to complete by July 2018. Heindel plans to travel to Houston to present their finding to Chevron officials at the end of each phase.