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Integrating Risk Assessment in the Unit Operations Laboratory

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Bringing Industrial Applications into the Classroom

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.781.1 - 23.781.19



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Paper Authors


Maddalena Fanelli Michigan State University

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Dr. Maddalena Fanelli is a Teaching Specialist in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science at Michigan State University. Dr. Fanelli teaches or coordinates a number of undergraduate laboratory courses, helping students gain hands-on experience that is critical to making theoretical learning more understandable and concrete. Before joining the department, she worked in the research and development groups in a number of industrial sectors, developing chemical processes for bio-based polymers and fuels, applying microchannel technology to achieve process intensification, studying agglomerate dispersion, and processing polymers for packaging applications.

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Daina Briedis Michigan State University

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Dr. Daina Briedis is a faculty member in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science at Michigan State University and Assistant Dean for Student Advancement and Program Assessment in the College of Engineering. Dr. Briedis has been involved in several areas of education research including student retention, curriculum redesign, and the use of technology in the classroom. She is a co-PI on two NSF grants in the areas of integration of computation in engineering curricula and in developing comprehensive strategies to retain early engineering students. She is active nationally and internationally in engineering accreditation and is a Fellow of ABET and of the AIChE.

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Dennis J. Miller Michigan State University

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Martin C Hawley Michigan State University

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Integrating Risk Assessment in the Unit Operations LaboratoryIn light of the practical needs of the Chemical Engineering discipline and the new AIChE/ABETprogram criteria requiring knowledge of process hazards, we are working towards makingprocess safety a mindset by integrating risk assessment in the unit operations lab. We believethat with this early, practical, and direct exposure to risk assessment, students can approachprocess design with increased appreciation for the value of considering process hazards.In our approach, each group in the unit operations course is asked to perform a simplifiedProcess Hazard Analysis (PHA) of a laboratory process before working on the experimentalstand. Our units include small-scale and pilot-scale distillation columns for the separation ofalcohol mixtures, an absorption column involving sodium hydroxide solutions, and an extractioncolumn for the removal of propionic acid from kerosene. Students are required to construct anaccurate flow diagram of each stand, consider general precautionary measures and operatinglimits for the process, perform “what if” analyses, take note of materials of construction andchemical compatibility for equipment components, identify physical properties of materials andtheir key safety data, and provide recommendations and a list of action items for futureconsideration. This is an approach that we expect to successfully address the new requirementsof the AIChE Program Criteria; moreover, we expect that our students will graduate withabilities in process hazards analysis that will be of benefit in the workplace.

Fanelli, M., & Briedis, D., & Miller, D. J., & Hawley, M. C. (2013, June), Integrating Risk Assessment in the Unit Operations Laboratory Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19795

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