Winners of the BP Ultimate Field Trip 2014

Congratulations to the Department’s three second-year students from Keble College, Christopher Clay, Talbot Kingsbury and Jan Paszkiewicz (team name: ‘I Challenge You to a Joule’), who have won the BP Ultimate Field Trip 2014. The students were presented with their prize, which includes spending the summer on an internship with BP’s Alaskan operations, by BBC broadcaster, Clare Balding, at the Royal Institution in London.

BP Ultimate Field Trip 2014 - presentationBP’s nationwide competition promotes science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills. The challenge to STEM students was: ‘The environment is facing more problems today than ever before. Greenhouse gases are building up at an alarming rate, pollution is one of the major problems facing us today and a change in the way we use energy is needed. Can you identify an innovative solution to significantly reduce energy consumption within the energy industry that could be implemented by 2025 and would be scalable across the industry?’

The ‘I Challenge You to a Joule’ team solution focused on a system that would see energy from gas flares at oil and gas wells used for aluminium electrolysis. The concept uses a modular and mobile system that could be deployed in areas of the world where both oil and gas and aluminium production currently occurs, such as Texas and Russia.

David Eyton, BP Head of Engineering and one of the four-person judging panel, said: “They analysed the problem and figured out a really very innovative solution to that problem - they figured out exactly how to make that work”.

He added: “I asked a question about safety, asking about how safe it was to have an aluminium site so close to an oil and gas operation and they responded by saying that first of all they’d think about putting out that huge, naked flame burning from the flare stack - which is actually a very good point. It was a well thought through idea - I can’t tell you whether or not it would work in practice because it’s a brand new idea, but there’s been a lot of thought gone into it”.

Winners of the BP Ultimate Field Trip
Pictured from left to right are Department of Engineering Science students: Christopher Clay, Jan Paszkiewicz and Talbot Kingsbury
Christopher Clay, a member of the winning team, said: “I am really proud of our team’s efforts. I would not hesitate in recommending the experience to other students, it’s very rewarding. It's not easy, but all the hard work is worth it”.

Professor Paul Taylor, who represented the Department of Engineering Science at the Royal Institution of Great Britain prize giving event, said: “Out of 120 teams from across the UK, four teams made the final (Strathclyde, Birmingham Durham and Oxford). They had to submit a 4-minute video, and a poster, both in advance. This evening each group was quizzed for 20 minutes by the four judges in front of a large audience. I was impressed by the cool and considered answers that all the groups gave. After this the judges withdrew and then returned to announce that Oxford was 1st, and actually the 1st choice of all the judges individually”.

The ‘I Challenge You to a Joule’ team prize is a fortnight's field trip, due to begin in June, with BP. They will join winning teams from BP's Angola, Canada, Trinidad and Tobago and US versions of the Ultimate Field Trip competition to visit BP's Alaskan operations. They will then visit Chicagoland in the US Midwest to see a BP trading floor and explore a state-of-the-art oil refinery.

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