University of Calgary

Schulich prof on high-profile U.S. panel probing bitumen transportation

UToday HomeJune 28, 2013

Frank Cheng is a professor of mechanical engineering in the Schulich School of Engineering, and the Canada Research Chair in Pipeline Engineering. Frank Cheng is a professor of mechanical engineering in the Schulich School of Engineering, and the Canada Research Chair in Pipeline Engineering. A key finding by a panel that includes professor Frank Cheng from the Schulich School of Engineering could have significant implications for the future of the Keystone XL pipeline.

The report for the Washington, D.C.-based National Research Council found that diluted bitumen has physical and chemical properties within the range of other crude oils, and that no aspect of its transportation by pipeline would make it more likely than other crude oils to cause an accidental release.

Yufeng (Frank) Cheng, Canada Research Chair in Pipeline Engineering at the Schulich School of Engineering, was one member of the committee that investigated whether the consequences of a diluted bitumen release would differ from those of conventional crude oils.

The finding is significant for Canada’s oil and gas industry, which is attempting to open opportunities to transport Alberta’s oil sands crude safely through pipelines. It is hoped policymakers will take this report into account when making a final decision on the future of the Keystone XL.

Cheng says he was honoured to be selected to be part of the panel, formed by the National Academy of Sciences and the Department of Transportation. He is the only Canadian on the panel of 12 members. Other members are representatives from U.S. universities, research organizations and consulting firms.

“Being on this panel has provided me with the excellent opportunity to serve both Canada and the U.S. and to interact with a host of government and industry experts in pipeline engineering,” says Cheng. “It has helped me deepen my knowledge in the committee’s focus areas: pipeline corrosion, pipeline operation, petrochemicals and public policy.”

Cheng feels that his inclusion in the panel also raised the profile of the University of Calgary in the area of pipeline engineering.

Originally from China, Cheng completed his BSc from Hunan, China, his MSc from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and his PhD from the University of Alberta. He then held a postdoctoral position at Nova Chemicals and joined the University of New Brunswick as research scientist before joining the University of Calgary in 2005.

“I deeply appreciate Canada for giving me the opportunity to serve on a panel of such great importance and contribute in such a meaningful way,” he says.