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Cache Module Development For Introducing Energy Into The Chemical Engineering Curriculum: Fuel Cells

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

New Ideas for ChEs I (aka ChE Potpourri)

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.271.1 - 13.271.20



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Paper Authors


Jason Keith Michigan Technological University

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Jason Keith is an Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering at Michigan Technological University. He received his B.S.ChE from the University of Akron in 1995, and his Ph.D from the University of Notre Dame in 2001. His current research interests include reactor stability, alternative energy, and engineering education. He is active within ASEE.

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H. Scott Fogler University of Michigan

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H. Scott Fogler is the Ame and Catherine Vennema Professor of Chemical Engineering and the Thurnau Professor at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. His current research interests include the reaction and colloidal kinetics of asphaltene and wax deposition from crude oil. He is a member of the CACHE Corporation which is supporting this initiative of bringing energy modules into the undergraduate curriculum.

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Valarie Thomas University of Michigan

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Valarie Thomas is an assistant research scientist in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Michigan. She received her S.B. in chemical engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and her Ph.D from the University of Michigan in the same field. Her current research interests are interdisciplinary and include surface chemistry, catalysis, alternative energy, novel uses of electrochemical reactors, vegetable oil hydrogenation chemistry and engineering education.

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Don Chmielewski Illinois Institute of Technology

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Don Chmielewski is an Associate Professor of Chemical and Environmental Engineering at the Illinois Institute of Technology. He received his B.S. from the Illinois Institute of Technology in Electrical Engineering in 1991, and his M.S. (1993) and Ph.D (2000) in Chemical Engineering from the University of California, Los Angeles. His research interests are advanced process control and fuel cell system design and control.

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Michael Gross Bucknell University

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Michael Gross is an Assistant Professor in the Chemical Engineering Department at Bucknell University. He has a B.S. Ch.E. from Bucknell University, and his M.S. Ch.E. and Ph.D Ch.E from the University of Pennsylvania. His teaching interests are materials science, fuel cells, and energy conversion, and his research interests are in electrochemistry and solide oxide fuel cells.

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

CACHE Module Development for Introducing Energy into the Chemical Engineering Curriculum: Fuel Cells Abstract

In this paper we describe the development of modules that can be used to introduce fuel cells into existing chemical engineering courses. Course specific modules have been developed that apply fundamental chemical engineering principles to the analysis of fuel cell systems. The modules are currently located at the following website:, and after beta testing, will be available through the CACHE website Each module contains a problem motivation, reference to material from textbooks widely used in the chemical engineering curriculum, an example problem statement, example problem solution, home problem statement, and home problem solution. To date modules have been developed for the following chemical engineering core courses: mass and energy balances, thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, heat and mass transfer, and kinetics and reaction engineering. In addition to presenting the modules, we will present some preliminary assessment on these educational modules.

Objectives and Motivation

The search for alternative energy sources is an area that has received great attention in the last few years, beginning with the January 2003 State of the Union address by President George W. Bush, approving federal funding for hydrogen fuel cell research for passenger vehicles. Similar announcements were made by state governors, most notably Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, stating “not only will we build these cars in Michigan, our Automotive Technology Corridor will help develop the fuel cell technology those cars will run on.”

Inherent within the nation’s initiative should be the development of educational programs related to fuel cells and other aspects of the hydrogen economy. Although it is common for engineering curricula to lag behind technology in emerging fields, there has been a thrust to develop course material for hydrogen technology research within the chemical undergraduate curriculum. This paper describes these efforts.

Fuel Cell Overview

A fuel cell is device that converts a fuel into electricity with heat as a byproduct. There are several types of fuel cells, with the most likely fuel cell to be used for transportation applications being the proton exchange membrane fuel cell. In this device, the hydrogen fuel reacts with oxygen from the air and produces water. A single cell of a fuel cell produces about 0.7 V of potential; for many applications the cells are “stacked” together to give a higher voltage to power an electric motor. As such, the majority of design and analysis of fuel cell systems focuses on a single cell. A cartoon is shown in figure 1 below.

Keith, J., & Fogler, H. S., & Thomas, V., & Chmielewski, D., & Gross, M. (2008, June), Cache Module Development For Introducing Energy Into The Chemical Engineering Curriculum: Fuel Cells Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3289

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