Tailing ponds are a growing environmental concern throughout the world. They are a temporary solution to an industrial refinement process and produce many environmental and societal risks. One of the major risks originates from their physical structure; large ponds of effluent contained by man-made barriers that have historically been unable to contain 100% of their contents. Our project proposal is a preventative solution aimed at reducing the risk of structural failure.
The primary objective of Aquesys was to aid in reducing the environmental burden of tailings ponds through long-term, autonomous monitoring. The tailings pond remediation process is lengthy and requires substantial financial investment from mine owners; furthermore, Aquesys was not designed to provide a solution, but rather, a means for risk mitigation in the mining industry.
Devices selected for use in the design of Aquesys were chosen so-as-to meet the self-imposed power and communication constraints. The deployment of Aquesys in remote locations necessitated the implementation of a communication protocol in lieu of a stable wireless connection. Despite its popularity, Bluetooth was not a viable choice for implementation due to limitations in range of operation. Early in development, a cellular communication-based protocol was chosen to fulfill the wireless capabilities intrinsic to the device. This choice was resultant in subsequent data transmission limitations, particularly with respect to bytes per data package, and sampling and transmission rate.
The software design of the system tied into the communications, hardware, and build work done. In the initial conceptualization of the software component, we deemed it necessary to have an GUI to handle and present the raw data captured by our system. As such, through brainstorming, our group decided to create an HMI (Human Machine Interface) that would be used remotely for Operators. We were heavily influenced by that of the SCADA systems present in utility industries due to our past internship experiences.
Our HMI was exclusively built on C#.