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Undergraduate Design Project Ideas in Sustainability: Rethinking Ammonia Synthesis

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Chemical Engineering Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

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Mahdi Malmali University of Minnesota Orcid 16x16

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Kevin Wagner University of Minnesota


Michael H. Reese University of Minnesota - West Central Research and Outreach Center

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Since 2001, Mr. Reese has been the Director of the Renewable Energy Program at the University of Minnesota West Central Research and Outreach Center. His research and outreach is focused on lowering the amount of fossil-fuel consumed and the decreasing the carbon footprint in agricultural production systems.

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Edward L. Cussler University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

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Ed Cussler is Professor in Chemical Engineering and Materials Science at the University of Minnesota.

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Alon V. McCormick University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

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Alon McCormick has taught since 1989 in Chemical Engineering and Materials Science at the University of Minnesota.  He received his Chemical Engineering degrees from Tulane University in 1983 (Bachelors) and UC Berkeley in 1987 (Ph.D., advised by Profs.
Clay Radke and Alex Bell).  He was also a postdoc in the Chemistry department at UC Berkeley in Prof. Alex Pine's group. His research interests have focused on mechanisms of materials assembly and dynamics at the molecular and nanoscopic levels.  His students have investigated a variety of assembly processes.   He has participated in service in several roles.  He has chaired the UMN Senate Committee on Educational Policy, and he serves on the AIChE's Education and Accreditation Committee, Chemical Engineering Technology Operating Council, and Executive Board of the Program Committee.

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We are beginning to create undergraduate design and analysis projects that address a chemical process very familiar to students - ammonia synthesis - with design objectives focused on sustainability. We are exploring potential strategies for zero-carbon-footprint, distributed, small-scale ammonia production for fertilizer at the farm using stranded wind or solar energy. This is a product of our research efforts that aim to make renewable and sustainable local ammonia production a realistic option for agricultural use; these approaches may also be of value for ammonia as fuel and as hydrogen-carrier. Our projects will have the added feature that the students will be able to analyze a small-scale wind-turbine-powered Haber-Bosch pilot plant (using water electrolysis for hydrogen) on a working corn research farm operated by our agriculture college.

Malmali, M., & Wagner, K., & Reese, M. H., & Cussler, E. L., & McCormick, A. V. (2016, June), Undergraduate Design Project Ideas in Sustainability: Rethinking Ammonia Synthesis Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.27088

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