A group of RMIT engineering students have received the Pratt Prize at an annual event hosted by Engineers Australia.
The event brings together students from Victorian universities offering degrees in chemical engineering and is awarded annually by the Joint Victorian Chemical Engineering Committee (JVCEC) for the best chemical engineering design project.
Submissions from Melbourne University, Monash University and RMIT were judged by a panel of experienced engineers who made their decision based on specific criteria.
The winning group of double degree students: Thomas Breadon, Luke Brayshaw, Nebeal Faris, Timothy Hanna, Reyan Karacan and Hang Tran from the School of Civil, Environment and Chemical Engineering and the School of Applied Sciences, received the honour for their Gato Negro Nickel project.
Breadon said the calibre of the competition was impressive.
“We were competing against the best final-year chemical engineering design projects from both the University of Melbourne and Monash University so we all felt an overwhelming sense of achievement along with some surprise," he said.
Their project was an all-inclusive study into the feasibility of a greenfield nickel mineral processing plant located in northern Colombia, South America.
“We had to review and select the most suitable nickel refining method based on qualitative process selection metrics, while addressing important issues such as occupational health and safety, economic performance, waste management and energy consumption.”
The students were also required to demonstrate that they had considered strategic factors including plant location, process safety and sustainability, and had to submit complete material and energy balances and equipment sizing requirements, as well as detailed economic and stakeholder analyses and a range of other objectives.
“The scenario specified that the laterite orebody predominantly consisted of limonite type ore, which is characteristic of low nickel and high iron content,” Breadon said.
“This feature played a dominant role in overall process selection and after carrying out a market analysis, considering factors such as competition, forecasting, supply and demand it was determined that the plant would be designed to a capacity of 60,000 tonnes per annum of contained nickel in a 99.8 per cent pure form.”
The Pratt Prize was established in the memory of Professor Henry Reginald Clive Pratt who was the founder of the Victorian IChemE group and a former member of the RMIT Department of Chemical Engineering Advisory Committee. It honours his contributions to chemical engineering.
The Gato Negro entry will now be submitted for the national BOC Design Prize, which will be announced at the Asian Pacific Confederation of Chemical Engineering (APCChE) conference in September.