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Use Of A Web Based Virtual Laboratory To Introduce Mass Transfer Processes In Environmental Engineering And Science Courses

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Technology in Environmental Engineering Courses

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.1227.1 - 8.1227.6



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Paper Authors

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Yusong Li

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Eugene J. LeBoeuf

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

Session 2251

Use of a Web-Based Virtual Laboratory to Introduce Mass Transfer

Processes in Environmental Engineering and Science Courses

Yusong Li and Eugene J. LeBoeuf Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Vanderbilt University


This paper describes the development of a web-based laboratory as a means to introduce advanced mass transfer processes concepts in environmental engineering and science courses. This web-based laboratory is comprised of interactive user-friendly input interfaces, customizable output interfaces, illustrative Help and Tutorial sections, a relational database, and a finite element in space and finite difference in time numerical engine. Architecture used to develop and implement this system is briefly discussed.

The virtual laboratory employs spherical particles representative of a number of matrices of interest to environmental engineers, including water treatment systems and subsurface contaminant fate and transport. Users of the laboratory may define physical and chemical characteristics of up to five different particles, including up to five separate reactive regions within each particle. Complex mass transfer processes, including linear and nonlinear sorption and Fickian and non-Fickian diffusion processes, are capable of being modeled for each reactive domain within each particle. Two types of boundary conditions, reflective of completely mixed flow reactors and completely mixed batch reactors, are also included. Illustrations of the education benefits derived from use of the web-based laboratory are demonstrated by two examples.

Introduction Understanding the complex processes controlling the mass distribution, transportation, reaction, and transformation of contaminants within the natural or engineered environment is critical for sustainable agricultural practices, water and wastewater treatment, and effective and efficient contaminant remediation. Communicating an understanding of the underlying concepts of mass transfer processes, however, has been a difficult challenge in civil and environmental engineering education [1]. While students may be well-grounded in the fundamental theories of mass transfer processes after completion of traditional coursework, they may not be as well prepared to transition to practicing engineering and conducting state-of-the-art research, because of the inability to apply known concepts to new problems, and the inability or reluctance to construct numerical models.

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering

Li, Y., & LeBoeuf, E. J. (2003, June), Use Of A Web Based Virtual Laboratory To Introduce Mass Transfer Processes In Environmental Engineering And Science Courses Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--12225

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