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Energizing An Introductory Chemical Engineering Course With Biodiesel

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Conference

2008 Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Innovations in the ChE Laboratory

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

Page Count

17

Page Numbers

13.489.1 - 13.489.17

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/3451

Download Count

60

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Paper Authors

biography

Katherine Taconi University of Alabama, Huntsville

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Dr. Katherine A. Taconi is an Assistant Professor of Chemical and Materials Engineering at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. She received her B.S. (2000) and Ph.D. (2004) degrees from Mississippi State University and joined the faculty at UA Huntsville in 2004. Her research efforts include investigating the biological production of value-added compounds from various waste streams and co-products of biofuel production, such as crude glycerol. As a faculty member, Dr. Taconi has taught Computer Methods for Chemical Engineers, Design and Analysis of Transport Equipment, Unit Operations Lab I and II, and a split-level course in bioseparations. She also focuses on development and implementation of biofuels-related problems, projects, and labs into the undergraduate curriculum.

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biography

R. Michael Banish University of Alabama, Huntsville

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Dr. R. Michael Banish is an Associate Professor of Chemical and Materials Engineering at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. He received his Ph.D in Material Science and Engineering in 1992. After working in the Center for Microgravity and Materials Research at UA Huntsville, Dr. Banish joined the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering in 2003. Dr. Banish's primary research focus is evaluating crystal growth of biological and semiconductor materials and transport processes within those systems. He also teaches several chemical and materials engineering courses including Computer Methods for Chemical Engineers, Nature and Properties of Materials, and Applied Materials Processing.

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

Energizing an Introductory Chemical Engineering Course with Biodiesel

Abstract

The biorefining industry is experiencing tremendous growth in the United States as well as in the State of Alabama. Over the past several years, domestic production of ethanol has doubled, while biodiesel production has more than tripled. Media attention highlighting the current high price and limited supply of crude oil and continually escalating environmental concerns with the use of petroleum fuels has increased interest in and awareness of renewable energy and biofuels, especially among students. Since chemical engineers play a vital role in the advancement of the biorefining industry, biofuel production is an excellent vehicle to make chemical engineering “come alive” for students and stimulate interest in the field as both a discipline and a profession.

The Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering at the University of Alabama in Huntsville has developed a hands-on laboratory activity allowing students to produce their own biodiesel. Biodiesel production is a relatively simple, safe, and inexpensive laboratory exercise, making it well-suited for use in outreach activities and introductory-level chemical engineering courses. At UA Huntsville, the activity is currently being used to introduce high school students as well as freshmen and transfer students to the field of chemical engineering. A modified version of the activity is utilized in the College of Engineering Summer Camp for high school students, while a more comprehensive version is used in the introductory chemical engineering course that is part of the department’s core curriculum. The laboratory activity is supplemented with a lecture that provides students with an overview of biofuels production and utilization and discusses the scientific and engineering aspects of biodiesel production.

This paper provides the materials, supplies, and procedures necessary to implement and execute the biodiesel production activity along with cost estimates. Also included are examples of supplemental lecture material and assignments and calculations appropriate for use in an introductory-level course.

Introduction

The biofuels industry has experienced significant and well-publicized growth in recent years. Favorable tax incentives, the current high price and limited supply of crude oil, and continually escalating environmental concerns with the use of petroleum fuels have facilitated tremendous increases in production of the two primary biofuels, biodiesel and ethanol. Domestic biodiesel production more than tripled between 2005 and 2007, while ethanol production doubled between 2005 and 2006. Growth is certain to continue, as the U.S. Department of Energy has set the goal of replacing 30% of petroleum fuels with biofuels by 2030. Biofuels production in the state of Alabama is also experiencing significant growth. Currently, over 23 million gallons of biodiesel are produced in Alabama, with an additional 114 million gallons of capacity under construction. Various companies in the state are also developing ethanol production facilities.

Taconi, K., & Banish, R. M. (2008, June), Energizing An Introductory Chemical Engineering Course With Biodiesel Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. https://peer.asee.org/3451

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