Salt Lake City, Utah
June 23, 2018
June 23, 2018
July 27, 2018
Undergraduate students were exposed to hands-on novel desalination laboratory experiments in an attempt to generate interest towards research in the broad field of environmental engineering and specifically in the field of water desalination. The laboratory exercises were designed to introduce desalination techniques, enhance their learning experiences and prepare them as potential researchers in laboratory settings. The capacitive deionization (CDI) is an emerging and novel technique for desalination of low salinity water. The hands-on experience of CDI based laboratory experiments provided foundational and working knowledge of the CDI concept and allowed students to learn basic methodology followed in environmental laboratories to arrive at technical conclusions. Students were given opportunity to desalinate water solutions using commercially available carbon aerogel fiber/paper electrodes at various conditions. Different parameters such as applied voltage, ambient temperature, initial concentration, flow rate, ion radius were varied and effects on desalination performance were observed. Students were allowed to have teams (maximum two students per team). The teams were assigned one of these variables and asked to explore the effect its variation on desalination in using a semi-batch mode CDI experiment set up. The students were supervised and aided by a couple of doctoral student mentors.
In one of the laboratory assignments, students used a conductivity meter to develop salinity vs conductivity calibration curves for a given salt. Each team was asked to prepare and use their calibration curve to measure the salinity levels of 2 to 3 solutions of unknown salinity of the same salt type. In another assignment, each team was asked to adopt a basic CDI reactor and were provided with basic material, equipment and supplies and guidelines for the project. A salt solution was pumped through the reactors in a continuously re-cycled (multi-pass) mode. The conductivity was observed in a reservoir. Once the electrodes are saturated and cannot absorb more ions, the salinity does not change any more. Students were asked to do mass-balance on the total quantity of salt involved in the experiment. They were asked to use initial and final concentrations and the volume of the solution in these calculations. Students were allowed to explore the effects of various operating conditions on desalination.
The hands-on design-build-operate experience starting from preparation of solutions of varying concentrations, preparing calibration curves, adopting a reactor with a basic design and operating it under variable conditions exposed students to fundamental of experimental research. Pre/post-activity surveys were conducted to measure the students’ experience on specific aspects of the laboratory assignments and their change of interest in environmental engineering. The results have been encouraging and provide deeper insight into the whole process.
Tewari, S., & Ahmed, M. A., & Tummala, C. M. (2018, June), Generating Interest Among Undergraduates Toward Research in Environmental Engineering by Incorporating Novel Desalination Technology-based Hands-on Laboratory Assignments Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/30558
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