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Automated Process Control Laboratory Experience: Simultaneous Temperature and Level Control in a Continuously Stirred Tank Reactor System

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Improving Laboratory Education in Chemical Engineering

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.220.1 - 24.220.21



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Paper Authors


Joshua A. Levinson Lafayette College

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Levinson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering at Lafayette College. His teaching interests are in senior capstone design, integrated chemical engineering laboratory, transport, and thermodynamics. His research interests are in semiconductor processing technology, microfluidics, transport phenomena, chemical kinetics, and chemical engineering pedagogy.

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Eric L. Maase University of Massachusetts-Lowell

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Glen Thomas Tennyson

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Automated Process Control Laboratory Experience: Simultaneous Temperature and Level Control in a Continuously Stirred Tank Reactor SystemA process control laboratory experience has been developed using a continuously stirred tankreactor system that permits simultaneous level and temperature control using water as theprocess medium. This work was originally completed as a senior honors thesis project, and theresulting system has been successfully incorporated into the process control block of a junior-level unit operations laboratory course. Use of the apparatus over multiple laboratory sessionsprovides students with a hands-on experience that illustrates the concepts of systemcharacterization (e.g., calibration, determining operating ranges, understandingelectromechanical component specifications, etc.), open-loop process response measurements,and closed-loop response and PID tuning. A controller program to interface with the valves andsensors and to perform data logging was constructed in LabView, employing a graphical userinterface. As part of the experience, all sensors and valves of the system are to be characterizedand calibrated. The two system processes—i.e., temperature and height—are run in an open loopmanner, with data collection providing a means to determine appropriate process models.Process parameters from these models permit the estimation of controller tuning values (i.e.,controller gain and time constants) through formula- or software-driven means (e.g., ControlStation Loop-Pro). SISO configurations are then employed to test various control settings fortuning purposes, with the use of hand-tuning techniques to refine these values. The system canultimately be operated in a MIMO configuration without and with decoupling gains; the typicaloscillatory behavior without decoupling is demonstrated due to the inherent process interactions.Students who use this system are thereby given a hands-on opportunity to practice a variety ofessential process control techniques and concepts, providing an important context for thismaterial.NOTE: I would like my paper to be incorporated into a regular session.

Levinson, J. A., & Maase, E. L., & Tennyson, G. T. (2014, June), Automated Process Control Laboratory Experience: Simultaneous Temperature and Level Control in a Continuously Stirred Tank Reactor System Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20111

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