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Development And Implementation Of An Internet Enabled Environmental Engineering Experiment

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Innovative Teaching Methods

Tagged Division

Environmental Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.450.1 - 11.450.7



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Paper Authors

author page

John Bergendahl Worcester Polytechnic Institute

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

Development and Implementation of an Internet-Enabled Environmental Engineering Experiment


Some degree of laboratory experience is desirable for a comprehensive education in environmental engineering. While it would be advantageous for all students to obtain hands-on laboratory skills in a laboratory class on campus, it is not feasible for some students to attend lab courses either because of time constraints (e.g. part-time students) or physical limitations that preclude access to a laboratory. There should be an opportunity for all engineering students to be exposed to laboratory experiences. This project was initiated with the hypothesis that remote laboratory experiments controlled via the internet may enhance the educational experience of students who would otherwise not have a laboratory opportunity. The internet-enabled experiment can be implemented for undergraduates and graduates, distance-learners and on- campus students, as well as for physically-challenged students.

Adsorption phenomena and the need for the experiment

Adsorption of contaminants to granular activated carbon is a common process used to remove contaminants from air and water. It is frequently employed to assist in the remediation of contaminated sites, recovery of polluted waters, treatment of industrial wastewaters before discharge, treatment of potable water, etc. The equilibrium relationship between the aqueous concentration and mass of concentration adsorbed per mass of activated carbon is described by various isotherms (Langmuir, Freudlich, and others) and is a relatively straightforward concept for students to grasp. However, the behavior of contaminants when in a dynamic system such as a fixed bed contactor is somewhat difficult for students to understand by illustrating breakthrough curves in class; a “static” teaching approach to a “dynamic” problem. Contaminants must pass through four steps, two of which are relatively slow, to transfer from being in the bulk solution to being adsorbed. Figure 1 illustrates the four steps: (1) bulk advection (fast), (2) film diffusion (slow), (3) pore diffusion (slow), and (4) surface adsorption (fast)1. Passing contaminated water and air through fixed bed contactors is a widely-applied technology for environmental remediation, so it is important for students to understand the mass transfer limitations with this process.

Bergendahl, J. (2006, June), Development And Implementation Of An Internet Enabled Environmental Engineering Experiment Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--693

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