New Technology Aids in Student Research

Hands-on teaching and research methods are becoming the standard for the Mewbourne School of Petroleum and Geological Engineering thanks to the new tool kindly donated by Helmerich and Payne Inc. The tool is specially designed to detect vibrations and provides reliable information about the condition of machines. It will be used in combination with MPGE’s sound proprietary technology to help better monitor drilling rig components.

This new technology will be used in ongoing research conducted by MPGE students and faculty as described below.

Vibration sensing is conventionally used in order to observe rotating machinery. Other technologies used in equipment condition-monitoring include motor current monitoring, oil analysis, thermography, dynamic pressures recording, and usage of operating state sensors (e.g. speed). Vibrations are often credited for recognizing mechanical decay of machinery by up to two months before any potential failure . Although widely used, vibration analysis still presents certain technical and economical limitations. Acoustic monitoring may prove itself to be a good addition to the family of techniques available on the market for this purpose.

Using sound sensors for the detection of machine function state is not new and has been intensively used in the automobile industry where, for example, knocking due to bad ignition is still detected by a modified microphone attached to the engine block. Vibration sensors have been also used in the industry in order to identify the functional state of the machine by monitoring unwanted vibrations. However, when working in hazardous and/or flammable environments, adding contact sensors to existing equipment may infringe regulations or manufacturer warranty.

This project focuses on providing a comparison between the concept of sound analysis with the already widely implemented vibration sensors in order to better understand similarities, differences, and how these monitoring techniques may lead to a safe, reliable and economical exploration, production and transportation of energy resources. The aim of this project is to develop a new technique in order to identify drilling rig components failures using sound detectors.

Additionally, the project will be a great platform for our undergraduate research concept, exposing our students to real-life challenges.

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