Engineering Innovator Creates Unique Applications Using MapleSim - User Case Studies - Maplesoft

User Case Study: Engineering Innovator Creates Unique Applications Using MapleSim

MapleSim is a high-performance multi-domain modeling and simulation tool that is based on an intuitive block-diagram design. It allows engineers to simulate complex systems quickly by dragging, dropping, and connecting a wide range of pre-built physical components from multiple physical domains. It also provides an environment for creating new components.

Dr. Ed Melcarek, an experienced engineer based in Ontario, Canada, with a flair for creating small, unique, and very intriguing technical applications, recently discovered MapleSim. He exploited MapleSim’s innovative user interface and powerful engine to model the solutions in two creative projects.

MapleSim gives model assurance to leading mining company

The Canadian mining industry employs over 350,000 workers and delivers 5% of Canada’s GDP. One of the many successful mining companies is headquartered in Ontario with 27 mines worldwide and a further ten in development. South America is home to some of their producing mines, one of which is in San Juan Province, Argentina. 

Dr. Melcarek recently used MapleSim to model the harmonics of pilot equipment that will potentially be scaled up to increase the yield of silver from this mine and hence increase its profitability.

The mine boasts 180 million ounces of silver, but traditional approaches of extracting the precious metal from the pulverised ore resulted in a yield of only 6.7% of the available silver. This was because the ore was encased in silica, making it impervious to leaching by sodium cyanide.

The mining company took the innovative approach of challenging technologists worldwide to propose methods that would increase the yield.

Dr. Melcarek proposed a particularly innovative solution. It included heating the ore on a conveyor equipped with RF coils to precipitate cracks (due to the different expansivities of silver, gold, and silica), followed by mechanical shock to increase the size of the fissures. This allowed sodium cyanide to reach the precious metal and increased the efficacy of leaching.

The gold and silver particles, however, had a wide size distribution and were hence frequency dependent with regards to the eddy current response; this would mean that only a certain size of particle would be heated. 

Dr. Melcarek theorized that this potentially major problem could be resolved by heterodyning the coils and offsetting their frequencies. This would generate harmonics, increasing the bandwidth of the radiated RF energy, and thus targeting a wider range of particle sizes in the silica ore fragments.

Before embarking on constructing a costly pilot version of the conveyor, Dr. Melcarek modeled the harmonics of the conveyor. MapleSim enabled Dr. Melcarek to simply drag, drop, and connect physical components to create his model. This unparalleled ease-of-use meant that it took just 15 minutes to model the resistive response of a metallic particle in the voltage domain. This gave the assurance that the conveyor would deliver adequate heating to precipitate the initial cracks in the ore.

Dr. Melcarek commented, “MapleSim provided the evidence that the heterodyning of the RF coils would be sufficient to initiate cracks in a wide range of silica particle sizes. This assurance increases the likelihood of the equipment being put in service at the mine.”

Recapturing lost aroma

Modern single-pod coffee machines made clean up much simpler compared to traditional percolators, but they have dramatically reduced the aroma released by the traditional brewing process. 

Dr. Melcarek was recently challenged with retooling single-pod coffee makers to recapture the aromatic experience of percolators with a solution practical enough for mass production at low cost.

His solution demanded just one major mechanical part–a 12 volt fan at a cost of less than $1 per unit, with only a diode, resistor, and switch added to the electrical infrastructure in the existing brewing device.

He simulated the circuitry and the fan in MapleSim with a multi-domain model that used several pre-engineered physical components. The fan, for example, was modeled with a DC permanent magnetic motor.

Dr. Melcarek commented, “MapleSim simulation software showed that this method of vapor dispersal is viable and practical. I was able to create a multi-domain model in the fraction of time it would have taken with traditional tools. The flexibility to view and analyze the symbolic equations with a Maple worksheet gave me a degree of clarity not provided by other software packages.”