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Connecting Mass and Energy Balances to the Continuum Scale with COMSOL DEMos

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

SPECIAL SESSION: Educational Methods and Tools to Encourage Conceptual Learning I

Tagged Divisions

Chemical Engineering and Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.371.1 - 22.371.22



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Paper Authors


Adrienne R. Minerick Michigan Technological University Orcid 16x16

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Adrienne Minerick is an Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering at Michigan Tech having moved from Mississippi State University in January 2010, where she was a tenured Associate Professor. She received her M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame in 2003 and B.S. from Michigan Technological University in 1998. Adrienne’s research interests include electrokinetics and the development of biomedical microdevices. She earned a 2007 NSF CAREER award; her group has published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, Lab on a Chip, and had an AIChE Journal cover. She is an active mentor of undergraduate researchers and served as co-PI on an NSF REU site. Research within her Medical micro-Device Engineering Research Laboratory (M.D. – ERL) also inspires the development of Desktop Experiment Modules (DEMos) for use in chemical engineering classrooms or as outreach activities in area schools. Adrienne has been an active member of ASEE’s WIED, ChED, and NEE leadership teams since 2003.

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Jason M. 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. He is the 2008 recipient of the Raymond W. Fahien Award for Outstanding Teaching Effectiveness and Educational Scholarship as well as a 2010 inductee into the Michigan Technological University Academy of Teaching Excellence. His current research interests include reactor stability, alternative energy, and engineering education. He is active within ASEE.

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Faith A. Morrison Michigan Technological University

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Faith Morrison is an Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering at Michigan Technological University and currently the President of The Society of Rheology. She has authored a textbook on rheology and will soon publish a textbook on introductory fluid mechanics.

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Maria Fernanda Tafur


Aytug Gencoglu Michigan Technological University

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Aytug Gencoglu received his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Istanbul Technical University in 2003 and his M.S. in Molecular Biology, Genetics, and Biotechnology from Istanbul Technical University in 2005. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Chemical Engineering in Michigan Technological University.

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Connecting Mass and Energy Balances to the Continuum Scale with COMSOL DEMosIn transport phenomena courses, students often struggle with the visualization of massand heat transfer. In this paper, we use COMSOL Multiphysics to develop modules tohelp students connect high-level mass and energy balances with the underlying physicalphenomenon at the continuum scale. We focus on microfluidics and fuel cells becausefew examples exist in the chemical engineering literature in this area.A special topics course in chemical engineering entitled Analytical MicrodeviceTechnology was developed for undergraduate upper-classmen and beginning graduatestudents. One challenge when discussing microfluidics in microdevices is facilitatingstudent visualization of the mathematical expressions and physical behaviors observed inthe micron length scales. A microscale module is described that involves fluid transport,diffusion, and reaction. The module begins with pressure driven flow in a microchanneland then adds electro-osmotic forces, which are linked to ion association kinetics at themicrochannel wall surface. The module presents step-by-step instructions to develop thisin an open system and to measure the integrated velocity profile at various axial locationsin the channel. It can be seen that the total mass flowrate is constant for any axial length.Subsequent student-oriented additions include protein transport via isoelectric focusing tothe isoelectric point as well as electrolysis reactions in the fluid reservoirs at the ends ofthe channels. A senior level elective course titled Computational Methods in Chemical Engineeringwas developed for upper level undergraduate students. About one-third of the coursefocuses on solving partial differential equations. The students are taught finite differencemethods and practice them in MATLAB. They are also taught COMSOL Multiphysics.We describe a module building upon the pressure driven flow of the microdevice moduleand add transverse mass transfer of hydrogen gas through a gas diffusion layer to acatalyst surface for fuel cell applications. The module includes surface integration of thechemical species hydrogen to verify the closure of the overall mass balance. Student-oriented additions include nonlinear reaction kinetics and extension to multiplechannels.Course handouts and supplemental materials will be included in the paper andalso made available for instructor use via a website.

Minerick, A. R., & Keith, J. M., & Morrison, F. A., & Tafur, M. F., & Gencoglu, A. (2011, June), Connecting Mass and Energy Balances to the Continuum Scale with COMSOL DEMos Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17652

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