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A Supplemental Lab Project To Reinforce Physical/Chemical Processes In An Environmental Engineering Course

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.110.1 - 6.110.7



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Jerry A. Caskey

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Session 2551

A Supplemental Lab Project to Reinforce Physical/Chemical Processes in an Environmental Engineering Course

Jerry A. Caskey Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology


No matter what their learning style students at Rose-Hulman appreciate hands-on experiences to reinforce principles taught in the classroom. Over the past several years a supplemental lab project has been developed to reinforce several topics covered in our “Unit Operations of Environmental Engineering” course. This course is an elective course offered by the Chemical Engineering Department to students who want a background in environmental engineering. The topics covered include sedimentation, filtration(including micro and ultrafiltration), adsorption, ion exchange, and membrane separations. A laboratory project has been developed to make drinking water out of raw sewage using sedimentation, granular filtration, carbon adsorption, deionization, ultrafiltration and chlorination. The project has had a natural appeal because students easily relate to raw sewage and drinking water. The purification process was constructed using Plexiglass cylinders, Tygon tubing, peristaltic pumps and permanently mounted on a 4 ft by 8 ft plywood panel. Water samples are taken after each unit operation and the following tests performed: Suspended Solids(SS), Total Solids(TS), Conductivity, pH, Chemical Oxygen Demand(COD) and Fecal Coliform Bacteria. In addition students visually examine the samples for clarity and odor. The lab time required by each student is about 5 hours. The above tests reinforce the principles presented in class and demonstrate to students that each unit operation does indeed work as theory predicts. The results of two student reports are presented and discussed. As the professor I normally take a sample of the purified water, make a cup of coffee and rather dramatically savor the beverage to make the final point--it does work. At homecoming students who have graduated return and talk about the class where they made drinking water from raw sewage. This is probably the best testimony to the effectiveness of the project.


Some 20 years ago the Chemical Engineering department at Rose-Hulman introduced two elective courses covering environmental issues: an air pollution course and a water pollution course. The water pollution course was a survey course introducing students to the terminology involved cleaning up polluted water, a summary of significant legislation and an introduction to biological, chemical and physical treatment processes. The course has evolved over the years as most courses do and now covers mainly physical/chemical treatment processes because

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Caskey, J. A. (2001, June), A Supplemental Lab Project To Reinforce Physical/Chemical Processes In An Environmental Engineering Course Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 10.18260/1-2--9828

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