Canadian Consulting Engineer

Specialists: Brais Malouin

The founding partner of Brais Malouin Associates "BMA" is Dr. Normand Brais, P.Eng, Ph.D. a former full-time professor specializing in combustion at the Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal. Brais ran a pr...

March 1, 2003   Canadian Consulting Engineer

The founding partner of Brais Malouin Associates “BMA” is Dr. Normand Brais, P.Eng, Ph.D. a former full-time professor specializing in combustion at the Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal. Brais ran a predecessor company, then was joined by his former master’s degree student Louis-Michel Malouin, M.Eng. in 1996. Malouin has been president of the company for the past three years. They have 10 specialized engineers on staff and one administrator, working out of offices on Cte-des-Neiges in downtown Montreal.

BMA specializes in the simulation of industrial boilers and burners. They use commercial computational fluid dynamics (CFD) software augmented with in-house programs to analyze every aspect of boiler operation, from combustion to steam production.

Dr. Franois McKenty, head of the company’s CFD facility, explains that the method uses numerical techniques to solve the non-linear differential equations governing fluid flow and heat transfer. Most airplanes today are designed using CFD.

“CFD allows us to open up the black box that is a boiler and take a peek inside to see what makes it tick,” explains McKenty. Normally, it is nearly impossible to take measurements inside the furnace of an industrial boiler because the probes are destroyed by the intense heat of the flame.

Applying CFD to boiler technology is much more complex than conventional aerodynamics analysis because there are more physical phenomena involved: mass transfer, chemical reaction, heat release, radiation, etc. Only with today’s increased computer power has it become possible to economically apply these numerical models to industrial-size combustion problems. BMA currently uses three high-performance IBM RISC/6000 machines to do CFD. The most powerful of these has four POWER3-II processors, each capable of 1,500 Mflops (million floating point operations per second).

Using these computer heavyweights and producing three-dimensional computer models, BMA’s engineers design new thermal equipment and diagnose problems in existing systems. They have designed their own proprietary software to simulate water and steam circulation within a boiler based on models used by the Canadian nuclear industry. When “real” testing is required, they use laboratories at the Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal or at Natural Resources Canada.

Current work includes verifying a new concept for a U.S. boiler manufacturer, helping to evaluate a 25 MW cogeneration plant, and designing a biomass boiler for a Quebec manufacturer.

For the future, Malouin believes that increasing computing power will enable them to do multi-physics modeling linking flow simulations, solid mechanics simulations and vibration analyses. These operations had to be done separately until quite recently.


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