1994 Winner: Innovation In Oil Sands Research Sponsored By Syncrude Canada Ltd.
Research Group Produces Vast Body of High Quality Oil and Gas Data
Dr. Clifton Shook is Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Saskatchewan where he has taught since 1960. He obtained his BSc from the University of Alberta in 1956 and his PhD from the Imperial College of Science and Technology in London under an Athlone Fellowship, specializing in the area of slurry flow (generally defined as any fluid mixture of a pulverized solid with a liquid used as a convenient form in which to handle solids in bulk). He joined the faculty of the University of Saskatchewan immediately upon receiving his PhD. Limited laboratory facilities at the University forced Dr. Shook to begin collaboration with the Saskatchewan Research Council, a relationship which continues to this day.
The major achievement of Dr. Shook’s research group lies in the large body of very high quality data it has produced: it forms the backbone of all subsequent correlations and theoretical developments made by researchers in this field worldwide. The establishment of a sophisticated, pipeline laboratory in Saskatoon (which operated since its inception without government subsidy) has helped in developing optimal pipeline designs for large slurry pipelines such as those operated by Syncrude and Suncor. The conventional equation for determining pipeline pressure drops, the Durand-Condolios Correlation, was dominant when Dr. Shook began his research in the late 1950’s, and it remains dominant. The Chemical Engineers’ Handbook lists it as the only equation quoted for predicting pressure drops.
Dr. Shook’s research team showed that in fact the Durand-Condolios Correlation is ‘grossly conservative’ in many situations. In one oilsands tailing slurry example, this equation overestimated the pressure drop by 340%. Dr. Shook and his group were able to develop optimal pipeline performance criteria for Syncrude and Suncor, resulting in pipeline design and construction savings which are incalculable. Syncrude Canada Ltd. is now exploring opportunities to apply slurry pumping technology in other areas. Without Dr. Shook’s input, such opportunities would be almost impossible to achieve. Perhaps his most notable achievement, however, has been the invention of a device to measure velocities and concentrations at a point within a flowing slurry. Such measurement is critical to developing theoretical methods for slurry flow, and there is still no alternative method for use in concentrated slurries.