June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
13.1080.1 - 13.1080.7
Simulation-Based Learning of Distillation Principles in Historical Context: From Da Vinci’s Alembics to Modern Applications
Yakov E. Cherner*, Jerry H. Meldon**, Anatoly F. Peresunko*** *ATeL, LLC, ** Tufts University, *** Southern Federal University (Russia)
One of the most difficult concepts in physical chemistry for grasp – and, because of its wide range of practical applications, one of the most important concepts - is that of relative volatility. Although grade-school students are familiar with the related concept of boiling, most require formal instruction to be able to distinguish it from evaporation. The concept of vapor pressure is taught in college-level general and physical chemistry, and thermodynamics, but is not well retained.
Chemical engineering professors quickly realize the necessity of emphasizing, repeatedly, that when multi-component solutions begin to evaporate, the emerging vapors consist not only of the most volatile component, but in fact contain all of them, albeit in different proportions than those in which they prevailed in the liquid. This concept is crucial to understanding the physico- chemical mechanisms exploited in air conditioning (as well as cooling via sweating and evaporation), refrigeration, power plant steam cycles, distillation of alcoholic beverages and petroleum fractions, and numerous other important processes.
Da Vinci’s Alembics
One way to spark student interest in such abstract subjects is to consider them in earlier historical contexts involving famous persons. Undoubtedly, Leonardo Da Vinci was and remains one of the most outstanding, mysterious and fascinating personalities of all time. This paper describes a simulation-based e-learning module designed to motivate and maintain student interest in studying distillation and related phenomena, and their practical applications, in historical perspective. Using interface controls, the student can select among sets of laboratory equipments and thereby journey from medieval alembics to contemporary laboratory and industrial-scale equipment.
The first section focuses on the early work of the great Da Vinci. Students embark on their journey with a brief introduction to Da Vinci’s bio, art and inventions. It follows with Leonardo’s drawings and interactive 3D models based on those drawings.
Da Vinci took it upon himself to develop and perfect a practical means to separate liquids by exploiting differences in their volatilities (i.e., their boiling points or, equivalently, their vapor pressures). He called the fruit of his labor the “alembic.” His original drawings and a description of his efforts motivate students to explore the physicochemical basis for his invention. The Da Vinci collection at the Biblioteca Ambrosiana di Milano includes three drawings of alembics with author’s notes.
Cherner, Y., & Meldon, J., & Peresunko, A. (2008, June), Simulation Based Learning Of Distillation Principles In Historical Context: From Da Vinci’s Alembics To Modern Applications Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. https://peer.asee.org/4225
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