Engineering Student Optimizes Coal Plant Production Process

Posted: December 18, 2017 | Author: Lexi Carter | Read Time: 2 minutes

Jacob CarterAs an engineering major at Southern Utah University, Jacob Carter has had multiple opportunities to directly apply his education to real-world experiences. From working with businesses to presenting his research at statewide conferences, Carter utilizes his skills in engineering, project management and communication to effectively solve problems.
For his senior design project in the engineering program, Carter worked with Intermountain Power Service Corporation (IPSC) to improve the plant’s coal production process. The system at IPSC had issues with the granulators clogging and plugging, resulting in the dust collection system shutting down. Carter, along with fellow engineering students Justin Christensen and McKay Swainston were asked to evaluate this problem and determine an appropriate solution. The group gained valuable insights from and were guided through their project by Dr. Ali Siahpush, associate professor of engineering.

“I learned a lot during this project, both in the technical side of engineering and working with others,” said Carter. “We held monthly meetings with the managers at IPSC, so the work we were doing had a direct application to an operating company. It made my entire group more dedicated to solving the problem in the most financially-responsible way.”

After extensive testing and prototyping, Carter discovered the inefficiencies of using the plant’s current pin mixer system and suggested they switch to a pug mill. This solution increased the safety of working at the plant as the coal dust in the air was considered an explosion hazard and was unsafe to inhale. IPSC was able to make these changes and reduced the cost of maintaining the dust.

“This project taught me many skills relating to school and my future career,” said Carter. “I learned how to properly manage a project, communicate effectively with a corporation, and how to prototype and develop my ideas.”

Carter has worked closely with Dr. Siahpush almost every semester of his undergraduate degree. Under Siahpush’s supervision, Carter has published two papers in national journals and has presented at various conferences promoting undergraduate research.

“As a student, Jacob does an excellent job in class and in his homework,” said Siahpush. “As a researcher, Jacob is awesome. He thinks outside of the box and has enough technical experience to thoroughly analyze a problem and come up with a viable solution. Then it comes to actually building and performing the task, and he’s fantastic. Jacob is the whole package.”

Carter graduated in December 2017 and has accepted a position as a mechanical engineer at CargoGlide in St. George, Utah.

Tags: Blog College of Science and Engineering Engineering

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