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MIT students share ideas about water conservation during oil and gas processing on the global stage

Three sophomores to represent MIT at BP Ultimate Field Trip National Competition Finals in Houston this April

Katie Verra March 17, 2015 MITEI

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sophomores Sophia Liu, Robert Mahari and Dheevesh Arulmani are competing for the opportunity to be mentored by some of the energy field’s top thinkers by presenting their innovative ideas about water conservation during oil and gas processing in the 2015 finals of the BP Ultimate Field Trip.

As the only team representing MIT, Liu, Mahari and Arulmani will head to the final round of competition on April 9 to present their team’s strategy to senior BP executives in Houston, Texas.

BP is challenging students in three countries –Canada, the US and the UK – to create a cutting-edge solution to reduce and reuse water from the production and processing of oil, gas and biofuels. Teams must analyze complicated factors such as the political, economic, environmental, and regional implications, and the ability to feasibly implement their novel solution by the year 2025.

“This year’s challenge is especially pertinent given the potential ramifications of a global water shortage,” said Julia Harvie-Liddel, group head of resourcing at BP. “We hope this will give students a real insight into our industry and show them that a career in oil and gas is a platform from which they can make a real difference.”

Known as Team AquaSolve, the MIT group designed an inventive solution which aims to substitute the water used in hydraulic fracturing with a methane-based gel.

“We hope that such a solution would reduce the water usage and losses in existing fracturing processes, making them more eco-friendly, and potentially shift the negative public opinion on hydraulic fracturing,” said Liu.

The MIT team is united in their desire to apply classroom knowledge to a real world challenge, with the hope of broadening their perspective of the global energy industry.

“Our experience in preparing for this competition has helped us realize the diverse paths there are in the energy field and has given us the opportunity to interact with executives at BP as well as other energy companies, which has been really valuable,” said Liu.

If named winners, the MIT sophomores will spend two weeks in Trinidad and Tobago exploring the culture while meeting with BP senior leaders and immersing themselves in BP’s natural gas operations. The winning teams will visit BP’s offshore platform and onshore processing facility as well as meet with BP leaders, graduate students and interns. The opportunity will give the winners an authentic experience of working in the industry.

Team AquaSolve will be competing against six other US teams in the finals including Aquam Inc., from Pennsylvania State University; Blastoise, from the University of Oklahoma; Illini, from the University of Illinois; The Maroon COG, from Texas A&M University; Owls, from Rice University and Roden Analytics, from the University of Texas.


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