Colorado School of Mines Capstone Project Adjustable Centralizers

Consistent with its mission, Mount Sopris Instruments seeks to build synergistic partnerships with research institutions throughout the world, investing in both future geoscientists and new technologies. To that end, we recently sponsored an engineering capstone project at the Colorado School of Mines, which challenged the students to develop a downhole centralizer capable of automatically adjusting to a borehole with different diameters.


With specific boundary conditions and coaching from Mount Sopris engineers, the multidisciplinary team successfully developed a suitable design solution and built a working prototype, able to automatically adjust to borehole diameters from 6 to 16 inches.

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The team started with three very different conceptual designs. They evaluated each design based on parameters that included reliability, manufacturability, cost, and borehole realities. The design they chose utilized two fixed collars inside of two sliding collars, where the sliding collars are connected using 4 blades made from a high strength nickel-chromium alloy. This material offers excellent relaxation resistance, a wide temperature range, and outstanding tensile, fatigue, creep, and rupture strength.


The force applied perpendicularly to the blades varies with borehole diameter, moving the sliding collars up or down the probe to automatically adjust to the borehole diameter. The team developed a SolidWorks model to analyze material options, and performed a mathematical force analysis on the proposed design to verify that it met all requirements.


Following the analysis, Mount Sopris supplied the funds to purchase the materials required to build a working prototype. The student team manufactured the prototype themselves, using the school’s machine shop. To validate the design, the team tested the prototype in pipes of varying diameter, successfully demonstrating the functionality of the centralizer.


Mount Sopris Instruments was pleased to partner with the Colorado School of Mines to enrich the learning experience of the students. While we do not currently have plans to commercialize the product, we would certainly be interested in your thoughts regarding automatically adjusting centralizers.  Also, if you represent a research institution and are interested in collaborating on a student project, please contact us to discuss your ideas!

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