Student Work

F20 FPE Wave Tank


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Oil has many purposes, and the drilling of oil will not cease, even if gasoline-powered vehicles are phased out in the coming years. Despite many technological and safety improvements within the oil drilling industry, errors still occur. With the chance for failure and the chance for oil spilling into the environment, cleaning oil spills as efficiently as possible is crucial. When oil is spilled in the ocean, the oil forms a surface layer resting on top of the water. While it would be feasible to collect this spilled oil with physical and mechanical means, it is often more efficient and safer for the environment to burn the surface layer of oil. This process may be efficient, but it still leaves pollutant residue in the environment. To study and improve this process, oil burns that simulate ocean conditions are a necessary component. The goals of this MQP are to provide the WPI Fire Protection Engineering department with a watertight tank that: 1. Simulates ocean conditions through the creation of waves, formed by a paddle. 2. Is modular, providing a small storage footprint and simple transport to alternative test sites. 3. Can endure high temperatures for prolonged burn testing. The paddle of the tank features a robust design that allows it to maintain rigidity while displacing hundreds of gallons of water each time it creates a new wave. With waves being sent continuously down the length of the tank, a “beach” is necessary to absorb the energy of the waves, preventing reflection in the tank. This beach is made of expanded steel sheet and features a 6:1 slope, which falls into the acceptable ratios for wave tank beach design. Underneath this sloping beach is a series of 3 expanded steel sheets that span the width of the tank. These expanded steel sheets have diamond-shaped holes, and these holes sequentially reduce in size to more effectively reduce the energy of the waves. The tank and frame are made entirely out of steel, and the tank is separate from the frame. With the frame being separate, this increases assembly time because more parts need to be properly aligned, but also reduces the manpower necessary to move the tank sections. This design choice is also necessary, as the modularity leads to a smaller storage footprint. To increase the durability of the tank, a circulating deluge system will reside on top of the tank. This deluge system will constantly circulate water from the inside of the tank and will run through iron piping that has been drilled out. The drilled holes of the iron pipe provide exits for the water, where the water is sprayed onto the walls of the tank to cool them. This cooling system will ultimately prevent the overheating and deformation of the metal panels that are subjected to the continuous high heat of the burning experiments.

  • This report represents the work of one or more WPI undergraduate students submitted to the faculty as evidence of completion of a degree requirement. WPI routinely publishes these reports on its website without editorial or peer review.
  • 23111
  • E-project-050621-150100
  • 2021
UN Sustainable Development Goals
Date created
  • 2021-05-06
Resource type
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