A Derbyshire chemical company has praised a group of Sixth Form students from Heanor who helped design a new ventilation system for its engineering department when they took part in a national competition.
The students, from Heanor Gate Science College, came up with their innovation while they were working alongside staff at Hazelwood-based firm Lubrizol UK as part of their entry into the annual Engineering Education Scheme (EES).
Run by the Engineering Development Trust (EDT), the EES links teams with Year 12 students and their teachers with local companies so that they can work on real-life scientific, engineering and technology projects.
The Heanor Gate students – Will Booth, Daniel Brown, Ellis Groves, Bella Wright and Eason Xie – were put to work alongside a group of Lubrizol’s own placement students, under the watchful eye of senior mechanical engineer David Moss, who set them the task of reassessing and improving the ventilation technology of the company’s engine testing cells.
Lubrizol develops lubricants and additives for fuels for internal combustion engines and, as a result, spends hours running engines in 14 purpose-built engine cells to test the products in action.
The hot gasses which are produced by the engines are extracted safely out of the cells through two large fans situated above, but although they have a good operational record, they sometimes can break down or require maintenance, meaning that the cells cannot be used when they are out of action.
The students’ task was to design a new ventilation system that would work as efficiently and minimise the down-time caused by inoperable ventilation and the students spent months working on their solution, which involved increasing the numbers of fans to seven.
Unfortunately, the Government’s coronavirus travel restrictions and school closures came into force before they could present their final report to a panel of engineers at Cranmore Park in Birmingham, but David praised them for their efforts and ingenious solution, which has still been entered into the competition and which he said he wants to install in the engineering bays in the future.
He said: “The idea of the competition is for the students to take on a real-life challenge and their solution, which they have demonstrated works, could save us thousands of pounds worth of lost productivity every year.
“They had to work very hard on their project and calculate how much gas was produced and understand the gas flow, and they got it to 90% finished before the lockdown restrictions came in. It’s such a shame, but they completed the report using via collaborative online working and we will now have to wait until the end of the month, when the competition is finally judged.”
Andy Coutts, physics teacher at Heanor Gate, said: “All five students really enjoyed the project and it’s given them great experience in solving real engineering challenges and working with skilled engineers.
“Nearly all are planning to pursue engineering at university, so Lubrizol has obviously given them a fantastic experience.”