2021 Senior Projects Conference

Mechanical Engineering

Program Schedule (PDF).

Room 112 Session: Join us on Zoom.

1:00 p.m.

Visual Tube Detection System

Team Members: Zach Harper, Spencer Hurst, Jacob Leslie, Hyder Spence

Sponsor: Xiang Zhou, Process Engineer, Benteler Steel and Tube, LLC

Advisor: Dr. Krystal Corbett

The objective of this project is to design a system to detect incoming tubes on a conveyor before they hit a stopper and are trimmed to their respective lengths. Once the tubes are detected, a signal will be sent to Benteler’s PLC through a Mosfet transistor circuit to automatically slow the conveyor before impact, mitigating bounce-back from the stopper. This automatic detection and slow-down signal ensure that the tubes stop flush against the stopper, permitting the correct length of the tube will be cut. An OpenMV Cam H7, utilizing frame differencing technology, was chosen to detect incoming tubes. This sensor is capable of 75-150 frames per second and contrasts a preliminary background image against the percent change of each new frame captured. The camera is attached to the stopper base via an aluminum extrusion arm set at a 90° angle. The camera housing is 3D-printed using PLA and was designed to slide along the extrusion. An 18-Watt LED light is also attached to the extrusion to provide the camera with adequate lighting. The production budget of the design is just under $150, excluding installation and training costs.

1:30 p.m.

Turbine Fluid Damping Model

Team Members: Lance Allison, Tad Marks, Nabin Shrestha, Paul Vu

Sponsor: Michael Titone, Technical Leader, Bently Nevada, LLC

Advisor: Dr. Kelly Crittenden

Bently Nevada uses a rotor training kit to train their technicians and engineers in turbomachinery vibrations. Bently Nevada wants a realistic simulation of turbomachinery from their training kit. However, the kit in its current state does not provide vibrational damping effects that realistically simulate turbomachinery. Furthermore, the kit uses a bulky fluid film bearing and a loud pump. To address these issues, the team designed and constructed a modified fluid film bearing with a sleek, minimalistic design that increases damping effects, all while using a quieter pump. The main goal of the design is to decrease the synchronous amplification facto (related simple measure of damping effects) by 50% compared to the existing kit setup. With the team’s new bearing design, Bently Nevada will have the realistic results desired using a compact and quiet kit. This provides Bently Nevada’s technicians and engineers the benefit of improved training quality due to the realistic simulation of the turbomachinery they will encounter in the field. The training leaders will also benefit from a more portable and less disruptive kit.

2:30 p.m.

Crack Arrest Treatment Electrode and Testing System

Team Members: Davin Barron, Liam Flanagan, Isaiah Turner, Sean Woodfork

Sponsor: Brice Daniels, Electrical Engineer, American Electric Power Corporation

Advisor: Dr. Henry Cardenas

Pressure systems within an American Electric Power plant endure extreme environmental conditions that cause corrosion and fatigue cracks throughout the vessel’s prolonged operation. Current repair methods require the removal and replacement of key tubing, pump, or heat exchanger sections within the assembly, causing substantial financial costs in production downtime alone. AEP now seeks to investigate a promising chemical treatment process that may identify and repair fatigue from within. By filling a damaged pressure system with an ionic solution and delivering current through it, metallic ions from the working fluid bond to the internal surface as an electrode device snakes through the tubes. Such plating has been shown to enter cracks, form a particular micro-structure that alleviates adjacent stress concentrations, and arrest further crack growth from propagating. Project members are tasked with configuring the process to treat up to 300 ft., as well as demonstrating a physical electrode device on 50 ft. of the exact carbon-steel tubing used within AEP’s boiler-fed steam power plants. Additionally, designs for two separate boiler test apparatuses will be examined: a small boiler to be housed at Louisiana Tech’s Trenchless Technology Center and an auxiliary system to run parallel with AEP’s primary boiler line.

3:00 p.m.

Billet Center Punch System

Team Members: Grant Anderson, Justin Lewis, Kyle Marcon, Tucker Wann

Sponsor: Justin Dowty, Process Engineer, Benteler Steel and Tube, LLC

Advisor: Dr. Michael Swanbom

Benteler makes some of the best steel pipes in the business thanks to their efficient production in terms of quantity and quality. They take advantage of a process called the Mannesmann effect during which a large spinning rod is driven through a large red-hot steel cylinder, creating a hole and turning the cylinder into a pipe. Often the head of the cylinder, where the rod starts piercing, is not punched perfectly at the center but eventually finds center soon thereafter. This head-end portion of the newly made pipe must be cut off and eventually becomes scrap which costs Benteler money. Benteler wants to cut down on these losses by punching a pilot hole at the center of the cylinder before it moves on to the piercing rod. Team members are tasked with creating a device that will punch a hole into the center of the steel cylinder so that the piecer finds the center faster and more accurately.

3:30 p.m.

Multi-Terrain Transporter

Team Members: Hayden Aldridge, Matthew Franklin, Kenneth Green, Louis LaBruyere

Sponsor: David Gremillion, President, Excellence and Innovation LLC

Advisor: Dr. Kelly Crittenden

The Multi-Terrain Transporter is a backpack frame support system that is designed to alleviate the weight of the backpack from the shoulders of the user. The system is compatible with external framed backpacks as it is intended to be an aid for users who are inhibited by their pack weights. The frame of the transporter is designed to attach to the frame of the backpack. The design of the system is set up to be adjustable for people of different heights as well as giving them different adjustments of springs and dampeners to allow for a more personalized and comfortable experience.

Room 114 Session: Join us on Zoom.

1:00 p.m.

Recycle Fractionation Screen Access Platform

Team Members: Clayton Barrett, Jonny Coe, Jordan Porche, Jordan Sanford

Sponsor: Beth Cole, Project Engineer, WestRock Mill, Hodge, LA

Advisor: Dr. Timothy Reeves

WestRock is the second-largest American packaging company. Their mill in Hodge, Louisiana, which was built in 1928, is one of the oldest paper mills still in operation. One of their core values is safety. The mill builds temporary scaffolding to access the top of the refractionation screen housing to perform annual maintenance. This scaffolding costs $1500 every time it is put up and must be inspected before use each day. The proposed design is to create a permanent platform that eliminates the need for temporary scaffolding. The design allows for access panels to be removed underneath the structure while retaining access to valves underneath the platform as well as around it. The platform will allow for up to five people to remove 30 bolts located on the top of the screen housing. The platform will have removable handrails to provide the necessary clearance for the removal of the screen housing lid and basket. The platform must meet both WestRock and OSHA standards.

1:30 p.m.

Thermal Runaway Management System for a Battery Pack

Team Members: Richard Fontenot, Abigail Morgan, Nicholas Mueller, Carli Raupp

Sponsor: Dr. Arden Moore, Associate Professor, Louisiana Tech University

Advisor: Dr. Arden Moore

Lithium-ion batteries have enabled many of today’s most ubiquitous technologies, including cell phones, laptops, tablets, and, on a larger scale, electric vehicles. However, the same high-energy density storage capabilities that give Lithium-ion batteries the ability to function over long periods can also lead to significant hazards when a battery malfunctions. While these malfunctions can have several root causes, most serious failures fall under “thermal runaway,” in which the temperature of the battery rises rapidly. This accelerates a chain of events within the battery, typically resulting in package rupture, toxic gas release, and significant fire potential. The team has designed and constructed an oscillating heat pipe (OHP) thermal management solution that quickly and safely prevents thermal runaway within a model Lithium-ion battery pack. The team constructed a scalable test module to mimic the dimensions and transient thermal response of an actual Lithium-ion battery array comprising seven industry-standard 18650-style cells. A heating condition was identified in which the model array replicates the transient thermal response of an actual thermal runaway event. The successful OHP solution demonstrates the ability to keep module temperatures and temperature ramp rates below those characteristics of thermal runaway in Lithium-ion batteries under the same heating condition.

2:30 p.m.

Poppet Valve Control Cylinder Removal System

Team Members: Keil Bauer, Josh Hagberg, Mark Patterson, Jr., Jordan Serna

Sponsor: Jeremy Brimer, Senior Engineer, Cleco Power, LLC

Advisor: Dr. Michael Swanbom

At the Brame Energy Center in Lena, Louisiana, Cleco Power utilizes poppet valve control cylinders as a component of the coal ash handling process of combustion. These cylinders must be maintained and eventually replaced to ensure proper operation. Cleco currently has no method of removing the cylinders from their pedestals. The proposed solution involves a modified manual straddle stacker. This straddle stacker features a custom grabbing mechanism to safely lift the 450-lb cylinders without damaging them. Stabilizing jacks are also used on the straddle legs of the machine to establish a level lifting surface. The straddle stacker will be used to remove the poppet valve control cylinders from their pedestals on Unit 2 of the Brame Energy Center. A separate, slightly altered version of the design will be used for the same application on Unit 3. After removal, the straddle stacker will allow for the transport of the cylinders to the ground for maintenance purposes.

3:00 p.m.

Recycle Primary Coarse Screen Access Platform

Team Members: Jeffery DeRoche, Remington Hayes, Alexandra Perkins, Caleb Villery

Sponsor: Todd Pyles, Engineering Manager, WestRock Mill, Hodge, LA

Advisor: Dr. Amin Azimi

At the WestRock Paper Mill in Hodge, Louisiana, workers are required to build a temporary scaffolding in order to reach the top of the recycle primary coarse screen housing to perform routine maintenance. Building a scaffolding each time maintenance is required is inefficient in terms of both cost and time. The proposed solution was to create a permanent platform in order for workers to access the equipment. This eliminates the use of temporary platforms without a fixed base. The proposed design allows two workers to occupy the platform in order to remove bolts located at the top of the screen housing and to remove the screen basket from the screen housing for maintenance. The platform must also have removable handrails in order to provide the necessary clearance for the removal of the screen basket and must also meet both WestRock and OSHA standards.

3:30 p.m.

Potato Trailer Cleanout System

Team Members: David Horne, Matt Leleux, Grant Mabile

Sponsor: Derick Newman, Project Engineer, Lamb Weston Corp. Delhi, LA

Advisor: Dr. Timothy Reeves

The design team is working with Lamb Weston, a sweet potato processing company located in Delhi, Louisiana. This plant utilizes large 18-wheeled trailers to feed sweet potatoes into the plant to begin the process. The trailers unload the potatoes in a three-stall wide wash bay. The trailers are cleaned after unloading to reduce the risk of spreading contaminants in the soil from farm to farm. The current cleaning process involves a worker climbing a difficult-to-use ladder on the side of the trailer and spraying it with a high-pressure nozzle, similar to a garden hose nozzle. This process is both time-consuming and a high safety risk. Lamb Weston wants to make the ladder easier to use and improve the efficiency of the cleaning process. The first part of this problem will be accomplished by utilizing a fold and latch extension ladder to lower the bottom rung’s height. The second part of this process will be conducted by using a sprayer that consists of a long reach handle, an on/off valve, and a roller that will allow the worker to safely roll it around the trailer’s top rails.

4:00 p.m.

Screen Servicing Hoist

Team Members: Corey Fyfe, Colby McGuffee, ThankGod Okosodo, John Pickering

Sponsor: Todd Pyles, Engineering Manager, WestRock Mill, Hodge, LA

Advisor: Dr. Arden Moore

The Screen Servicing Hoist project seeks to modify an existing lifting system utilized at Westrock’s paper plant located in Hodge, Louisiana. The lifting system consists of an overhead-mounted I-beam structure which includes two support beams and a beam/monorail that is bolted underneath the two support beams. A trolley and pulley block traverse along the bottom of the monorail. The pulley block is used to lift, remove, and service components of a fiber fractionation machine. The current lifting system requires sub-optimal methods to lift and remove the screen of the fiber fractionation machine due to a lack of vertical clearance between the pulley block and the housing of the fiber fractionation machine. The final design solution increases the resting height of the monorail by cutting the support beams, welding a short and more narrow I-beam to the top of the support-beam halves, and mounting the monorail to the I-beam connecting the support-beam halves. This solution will adequately increase the vertical clearance, maintain safety, and reduce the time and effort required by maintenance personnel to service the fiber fractionation machine.

Room 122 Session: Join us on Zoom.

1:00 p.m.

Draw Load Measurement System

Team Members: Brett Allen, Lauren Fogg, Cyrus Hinkle, Ethan Parks

Sponsor: Chuck Murphy, Process Engineer, Plymouth Tube LLC, W. Monroe, LA

Advisor: Dr. William Long

Plymouth Tube is a global specialty manufacturer of carbon alloy, nickel alloy, and stainless precision steel tubing. Plymouth uses a tube drawing process that sizes a tube by shrinking a larger diameter tube into a smaller one by drawing the tube through a die. One of the bar drawing processes uses a precision machined mandrel inside the tube while the tube is being pulled through a die. The tubing is pulled through the die, which transfers the load to the die. The die is then pressed up against the back of the housing, which keeps the system stationary. The tubes are drawn numerous times with the feed rates and the number of passes being adjusted to obtain the desired final dimensions. This method leads to many failed dies, wasted materials, increased maintenance, extensive polishing of dies, and many unknown parameters that change with respect to the orders placed. Plymouth Tube believes that if this process can be better understood, production will go up and unexpected failure rates will go down. Our project is to implement a load cell to measure the draw load forces being applied in order to provide greater insight into the tube drawing process.

1:30 p.m.

Print Sleeve Storage Lift

Team Members: Matthew Given, Myles Landry, Vedie Lavan, Seth McCoy

Sponsor: Jonathan Fortenberry, Engineering/Maintenance Manager, Graphic Packaging International, Monroe, LA

Advisor: Dr. Ethan Hilton

Graphic Packaging is one of the leading Fortune 500 companies. The carton converting facility in Monroe, Louisiana, mainly produces beer cartons for the following companies: Anheuser-Busch, Mark Anthony Brands International, and Miller Brewing Company. Each day the 1 million square foot carton covering facility produces and ships nearly 4.2 million cartons. Our project is to develop a print sleeve storage lift to give workers access to the upper position of the storage racks. To this end, we have designed a mobile staircase and lift that will allow workers to lift the printing sleeves to the upper rack with minimal manual effort. Like pulley systems found in elevators, a winch will drive a shaft located underneath the lifting platform. This shaft will collect wires as it rotates, lifting the platform using steel cables. Supports will be engaged underneath the platform after it has been raised to the desired height as a failsafe should the cable break. The lifting mechanism is bolted to the staircase, and the entire assembly is set on casters for mobility purposes. We expect this design to decrease loading and unloading times, as well as greatly mitigate ergonomic safety concerns associated with loading and unloading printing sleeves.

2:30 p.m.

Predictive Maintenance for Conveyor Reliability

Team Members: Austin Ballow, Nathanael Cook, Mark Lowe, Logan Thames

Sponsor: Randall Veasey, Senior Mechanical Engineer, Lamb Weston Corp. Delhi, LA

Advisor: Dr. Jinyuan Chen

Lamb Weston, a sweet potato fry processing facility, currently runs about 7500 ft. in conveyor belts. These conveyors can break down at any moment with the main culprit being the conveyor bearings. One hour of unscheduled downtime can cost the facility up to $10,000. Factory downtime can be mitigated through the implementation of our predictive maintenance software built to predict component failures. By accurately forecasting the life of a part, specifically conveyor belt bearings, optimized maintenance schedules can be developed. This predictive maintenance system minimizes unscheduled facility downtimes due to bearing failures and limits unnecessary or early replacement of bearings. Actively monitoring bearing vibration and temperature provides readings that allows our system to establish failure limits and a confidence interval of when this failure will occur. This system has the potential to increase the Lamb Weston facility’s reliability and ultimately increase the production of sweet potato fries.

3:00 p.m.

Automated Wire Assembly Jig

Team Members: Nick Alphonso, John Barham, Andrew Biggers, Colin Reilly

Sponsor: Ross Babineaux, Engineering Manager, Dis-Tran Packaged Substations, Pineville, LA

Advisor: Dr. Louis Reis

Dis-Tran Packaged Substations, located in Alexandria, Louisiana, needs a faster method to train their jumper wires. This process includes aligning the ends of the wires to precise points along a large, steel frame and welding these ends to aluminum pads acting as terminals. Rather than measuring and setting up the wires by hand as performed in the current method, which takes about 15 minutes, our team has proposed an alternative design that can align the wires to within 1/16th of an inch all at the push of the button. The Automated Wire Assembly Jig utilizes a stepper motor and rack and pinion combination to deliver a swift, less tedious, and more accurate procedure of wire training. A spur pinion attached to the end of the stepper motor allows for precise steps to be made along racks attached to each dimension of the jig. As the stepper motors are responsible for holding the wires’ ends during the welding process, these motors are powerful; they feature a holding force of 125 lbf to prevent the wires from moving out of place and are capable of traveling 12 feet in less than 1 minute!

3:30 p.m.

Active Snack Packaging: A Hands-Free Solution

Team Members: Kerry Dangerfield, Matthew Marton, David McCauley, Jackson Picard

Sponsor: Wes Higgens, CEO, Roseaux LLC, Alexandria, LA

Advisor: Dr. Andrew Peters

All across the country, people can be seen fishing every weekend. Fishing can be an all-day event that requires bringing snacks onto the boat. However, fishermen can find their hands covered in dirty water, grime from fish and bait, and other filth. The sponsor of this team has faced this problem often. His only solution has been to wipe his hands off on his pants and hope for the best. He came to the team with the goal of designing a container that would be easy to open, and also keep the dirty hands away from the food and opening. The other goals were to have the package be easily mass produced and have a tight packing factor for easy storage.