The scale and complexity of the proposed experiments require the coordination of infrastructure, resources, and expertise of all members of the network team. The experiments will be staged mostly at the two main research facilities and selected field measurement sites, while supporting fundamental work, preparatory experiments, and data reduction will occur in labs at the University of Alberta, University of British Columbia, and University of Waterloo, with further in-kind support from the National Research Council in Ottawa.
Major facility descriptions
Flare Test Facility
Controlled experiments applying advanced in- and post-flame optical diagnostics and sampling techniques to vertical flares operating under a wide range of conditions will be performed in the Flare Test Facility within the Energy & Emissions Research Laboratory at Carleton University. This facility, permits quantitative experiments on lab-scale flares up to 80 mm in diameter with turbulent flames up to 3 m tall. It will serve as a platform for research focused on flaring during flowback operations at hydrofractured oil and gas wells (Theme 1), refinery and upgrading air- and steam-assisted flares (Theme 2), and detailed optical property and morphology measurements of emitted BC and other target species of interest (Theme 4). This facility will also serve as a staging ground for ambitious, larger-scale experiments of flares burning in controlled turbulent crosswinds to be performed in the Boundary Layer Wind Tunnel Facility (BLWT) at the University of Western Ontario (Theme 3).
Flare Test Facility, Energy & Emissions Research Laboratory, Carleton University
The Carleton University Flare Facility is fully operational and features fuel-handling systems for creating C1–C4 hydrocarbon fuel mixtures, ignition and safety systems, a variable flow exhaust system and sampling hood, and a sample conditioning and measurements system including analyzers for major gas-phase species and soot.
Boundary Layer Wind Tunnel 2 Facility (BLWT)
The other major laboratory facility that will be used as part of this network is the BLWT at the University of Western Ontario (Western). This globally unique facility was specifically designed to study the effects of turbulent boundary layer flows on large-scale structures, such as long-span bridges or high-rise buildings. The wind tunnel is in a closed-loop configuration which is ideal for high-sensitivity combustion emissions experiments, and features two ~40 m long test sections. For the proposed research, the larger area test section, with crossflow dimensions of 5 m wide by 4 m high, is ideally suited for burning flares. Since this facility was never intended for use for burning flares, a number of alterations are required under this research project.
The wind tunnel was designed to have considerable flexibility for relatively large-scale experiments. Examples of past studies in the low-speed test section include full aeroelastic studies of long-span bridges and high-rise buildings; the dispersion of pollutants from various sources; dispersion of rain and snow around buildings; and topographical studies for wind around mountains and hills. Additionally, the larger test section has a wave tank situated below the movable floor panels, which can be used to study the interaction of wind and waves with offshore structures and ships. For our purposes, this wave tank space will be used to provide connections to the flare stacks, which will facilitate easier design of stack positioning and ignition systems by allowing them to be located below the test section. Another key feature of BLWT for the current proposal is that there are two large doors at the downstream end of the larger test section, which can be opened to rapidly purge the air volume within the wind tunnel between experiments.
The research program also includes a significant focus on field measurements at industrial flare sites, as further detailed in Theme 5. This builds directly on recent field measurement work internationally conducted in collaboration with World Bank GGFR, United Nations CCAC, and industrial partners Petroamazonas and Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex). While there are many technical and logistical challenges in conducting research at operating industrial facilities, we have developed robust instrument packages and protocols to maximize success once on site. Site access and approvals has always been accomplished on a case-by-case basis, and working with our national and international partners, we will continue to identify specific testing opportunities at a variety of sites in conjunction with the specific objectives outlined in Theme 5.