Environmental Engineering Students in Panama

Students work on projects at the Panama Canal

Two Environmental Engineering (EVE) and two Civil Engineering (CE) students are currently living in Panama City, Panama, working on projects related to the Panama Canal Expansion. The Panama project center was opened in 2010, and since then, three cohorts of students have traveled to Panama to work with the Autoridad del Canal de Panamá (ACP) on their Major Qualifying Projects. This fall, Keith Black (EVE), Mario Reed (CE), Shelby Miller (EVE) and Cindy Lin (CE) are enjoying the warm weather while designing systems for water provision and distribution.  

Keith and Mario are analyzing alternatives for the current chilled water distribution system in Balboa, Panama. The first alternative is a 6 kilometer pipeline from the thermoelectric plant at the Miraflores locks, using cogeneration to create chilled water to send to Balboa. This pipeline would work in combination with a thermal storage tank, closer to the facilities to provide the chilled water for air conditioning. The second alternative is a new facility with more up to date equipment but the same capacity and specifications as the current facility. The ultimate goal is to find the most efficient and cost effective option.

Shelby and Cindy are evaluating the feasibility of implementing a third raw water line from the Paraiso pumping station to the Miraflores potable water plant. Specifically, they are analyzing the energy required for pumping water from the canal to the plant. Currently, the major need for pumping is to overcome friction in the lines. A third line made of fiberglass could relieve pressure and provide increased capacity for future needs which are expected to increase from 50 to 70 MGD. In addition to energy consumption, this project is also looking at including a gravity-fed rainwater catchment line from a nearby river basin to save costs.

December 7, 2012

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