Salt Lake City, Utah
June 23, 2018
June 23, 2018
July 27, 2018
Sustainability is an important topic for chemical engineers to understand and apply in our energy- and resource-constrained world. Historic refineries and chemical process plants had minimal concern for resource conservation because of the abundance of fuel sources and the lack of concern regarding water treatment prior to discharge. This changed with several events of the 1970s and 1980s, including implementation of the Clean Water Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, as well as the petroleum energy crises that occurred in the US.
Students in the Chemical Process Design II and III course sequence in chemical engineering at Texas A&M University-Kingsville (TAMUK) are introduced to sustainability concepts during instruction in chemical process formulation (Design II) and in their senior design project (Design III). At TAMUK, students form groups and conduct a senior design project, involving a selected chemical process and process calculations using Aspen Plus process simulation software. Recently, the increased inclusion of sustainability topics in the Design II course has occurred as a result of the instructor receiving internal grant funding on a Title IX federal grant for course redesign. The sustainability concepts that are discussed in the course sequence are (1) recycling of unreacted feed chemical; (2) heat integration; (3) water use minimization or recycling; and (4) harsh or hazardous chemical or catalyst substitution. Once students are introduced to these concepts, they are expected to incorporate them to the extent applicable in their chemical process. Most student groups incorporate material recycling in their process as long as the single pass conversion of their process reaction is lower than approximately 90 or 95%. Fewer student groups incorporate heat integration or recycling of heat between different heat exchangers in a process. The lower incidence of application of this concept is attributable to one of two reasons: (1) heat integration is not suitable for processes that do not require high temperatures for a reaction step, or (2) students encounter a time limit near project completion because too much time is spent early in the project finding and correctly implementing reaction kinetics. The water use minimization or recycling concept is typically included by student groups only in the instance when water is a reactant or a component used for product extraction. The last concept of hazardous chemical substitution has rarely been implemented based on the instructor’s experience in the senior design courses, since this tends to be more in the purview of chemical product development rather than chemical process formulation and simulation,. Students are graded on their understanding of sustainability concepts in a single assignment in Design II, and then on their incorporation of concepts into the project in Design III, as determined by a portion of a grade in project oral presentations and final project design report. This presentation will demonstrate the extent of sustainability concepts embraced by senior chemical engineering students and the trends in student scores assigned by the instructor for this particular topic, as more emphasis has been placed on this topic in recent course offerings.
Alexander, M. L. (2018, June), Board 34: Incorporation of Process Sustainability Concepts in a Senior Design Course at a Minority Serving University Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/30013
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