Asee peer logo

A New Multipurpose Fluid Flow Experimental Module

Download Paper |


1997 Annual Conference


Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Publication Date

June 15, 1997

Start Date

June 15, 1997

End Date

June 18, 1997



Page Count


Page Numbers

2.31.1 - 2.31.9



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

David E. Clough

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2513

A New Multipurpose Fluid-flow Experimental Module

David E. Clough Department of Chemical Engineering University of Colorado

In 1996, we designed and implemented a mobile fluid-flow apparatus that has found immediate and wide application at various levels of our undergraduate and graduate programs. The reasons for the success of this module are its ease of use and breadth of application.

The fluid-flow experimental module is built into a standard mobile cart that can be wheeled conveniently to different classroom and laboratory sites, both within our Engineering Center and to adjacent buildings on the Boulder Campus of the University of Colorado. The apparatus is controlled by computer using the National Instruments’ LabVIEW software running on a notebook PC. The interface is via the printer port of the PC, thus avoiding specialized interface cards internal to the computer; consequently, different computers can be used conveniently.

The structure of the fluid-flow module is simple: it is a single water circulation loop with flow driven by a small centrifugal pump. Circulation rate is manipulated via an electronic control valve and measured with an electronic turbine meter. Water flows into the top of a 1-meter-high acrylic standpipe and exits the standpipe through a 9-meter-long helical coil of plastic tubing. The plastic tubing ejects the water into a sump tub which is connected to the suction of the pump. The level in the standpipe is measured by an electronic differential pressure transmitter. The various instruments are interfaced to a National Instruments’ DaqPad unit which provides for the printer-port PC interface.

The intended use of the fluid-flow module was to bring “O.D.E.’s in action” to our common sophomore-level course, Introduction to Linear Algebra and Differential Equations. In the Fall 1996 semester, nearly 300 students, organized in groups of four, ran experiments using the module and compared transient level response to that predicted by a coupled set of continuity and mechanical energy balance equations. The unit was designed to have complex eigenvalues at low operating levels and real eigenvalues at higher levels; consequently, it displays both underdamped and overdamped behavior, depending on the operating conditions. Student groups operated the LabVIEW interface with minimal difficulties and minimal instruction.

Additionally, the module has found use in the following settings:

⇒ demonstration only in a freshman-level technological literacy course for liberal arts students ⇒ sophomore-level fluid mechanics course: fundamental modeling & comparison with data ⇒ junior-level applied data analysis course for ChE students: regression analysis ⇒ junior-level ChE laboratory course: analysis of fluid friction ⇒ graduate-level numerical methods/modeling course: eigensystem analysis ⇒ senior-level process control course: implementation of feedback control including cascade

Clough, D. E. (1997, June), A New Multipurpose Fluid Flow Experimental Module Paper presented at 1997 Annual Conference, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 10.18260/1-2--6709

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 1997 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015