One of the most transversal challenges facing scientific activity in our country is the so-called technological transfer that in fact consists in how the new acquired knowledge or scientific discoveries that researchers obtain in their frontier research are employed for the solution of practical and specific problems, at any level of people's lives.
We could say that this is precisely the case of Camilo Mejías, a Civil Mathematical Engineer from the Universidad de Concepción, UdeC, and a current student of the Doctorate Program in Applied Sciences with a minor in Mathematical Engineering from the same university. Since his undergraduate thesis time, defended in 2015, (Identification of the Flow Density Function by Measurement of Suspension Settlement Curves and Numerical Simulation of Continuous Sedimentation) he has been developing a series of scientific studies related to sedimentation processes, through mathematical modeling, with results that can be applied to diverse industrial activities, such as mining and the recovery of water resources.
To achieve this, Mejías has collaborated with leading researchers in this area such as the director of aforementioned Doctorate programe, Raimund Bürger, as well as Fernando Betancourt, researcher from Center for Water Resources for Agriculture and Mining, CRHIAM, and Stefan Diehl from Lund University, Sweden, among others. This experience -accumulated thanks to the research activity that Mejías has developed during these years at Center of Research in Mathematical Engineering, CI²MA- led him to search ways to apply the results in real life, helping to solve problems that different industrial processes face. That is why, jointly with Diego Maldonado -also a Civil Mathematical Engineer from UdeC- and Rafael Contreras -an Industrial Civil Engineer from Universidad del Bío-Bío-, he formed Hibring Ingeniería, a consultancy company that seeks to contribute to connect in a more direct and fluid way the scientific work that takes place in universities and research centers, with the real needs that are detected in the various industrial and service activities.
RelaveSeco is a certain example of this institutional vision. This project, in simple terms, consists in a software that allows monitoring, controlling and anticipating processes that occur within thickeners that are used in the mining activity. “What we do is to develop mathematical algorithms that solve industrial problems and this specific project proposes the creation of a continuous thickening simulator, a simulation and control platform for a thickener, which are devices used in the mining industry to separate the copper from the extracted rock. This process requires large amounts of water that is then discarded for evaporation, so the biggest challenge is how we do more efficiently water recovery. This way, the platform we are developing will allow us to define what are the operating conditions to carry this process out in optimal conditions, with no water waste and avoiding potential thickeners destruction or a disaster in tailings dams with the serious environmental consequences that can occur in this kind of situations. So, the platform helps preventing these environmental damage risks, controlling the condition of thickeners through a simulation with permanent monitoring, which issues periodical reports. In addition, we are able project how you are going to behave in the future, predicting the conditions”.
Regarding the connection of this project with his Doctorate studies, Mejías explains that “we are applying the Mathematics that we have developed at CI²MA, from my undergraduate research until now, in a problem that is first detected in the industry and which is required to be solved”. RelaveSeco recently was granted funds for CLP$ 25 million from the Regional Entrepreneurship Support Program (PRAE) of the Regional Productive Development Committee, a state financing track that seeks to boost business opportunities detected in the national territory, solving a market problem with a scalable and value-added solution. The project headed by Mejías, in addition, is being supported by MentorINN program, a mentoring network for innovation of the Industrial Corporation for the Regional Development of Biobío, Cidere Biobío, which implies a specialized guidance on financial and technical execution of the activities engaged in the project, and instances of linkage with other potential sources of financing or clients for future business development.
Professor Raimund Bürger who, along with his colleague Stefan Diehl, is director of Mejías Doctorate thesis, comments: “I congratulate Camilo for having been awarded this important project and I wish him and his team much success in its execution. Although Camilo undertook all these steps by his own initiative, I would like to emphasize that this activity is not only aligned with one of the missions of CI²MA, which is to offer itself to the community as a unit ready to provide services and to inject first hand mathematical knowledge to solve current problems, but also responds to one of the REDOC.CTA Doctoral Network objectives, that is still in the monitoring stage, which is to stimulate entrepreneurship”. In turn, Gabriel Gatica, Director of CI²MA, and lecturer of the first analysis course taken by Camilo in the Ph.D. program, highlights: "I am certain that the analysis tools that Camilo learned will be fundamental to successfully address the first stages of understanding and subsequent design of the solution of the applied problems that he will face in his career".