Genevieve LeBlanc

Undergraduate student, Chemical Engineering

Genevieve has fought Red Death and won. The battlefield was the Shell Refinery in Fort Saskatchewan, where Genevieve spent several co-op work terms. Her weapons were intelligence, initiative and hard work.

During the process that turns crude oil into gasoline, the crude goes through a hydrocracker to break it down. When some of the molecules are too large, they produce a red, waxy, equipment-damaging build-up known as Red Death. Genevieve’s task was to find out how much of the waste stream could be cycled back through the process before Red Death started to foul things up.

She admits it wasn’t easy. “There is little work done in this area, and it was based entirely on historical data.” She conducted more tests, implemented a trial period, and convinced management that the flow of waste could be lowered considerably. The result: more material was salvaged, saving the refinery over $400,000 per year.

Genevieve believes it was her ability “to pick up things quickly and try to understand the big picture” that helped her succeed at Shell. “That’s something you learn well when you study engineering at Waterloo.”