Asee peer logo

Work in Progress: Implementing an Open-Ended Laboratory Experience in the Unit Operations Laboratory with an Alternative CSTR Reaction

Download Paper |

Conference

2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Work-In-Progress Postcard Session

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

Page Count

7

DOI

10.18260/1-2--33626

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/33626

Download Count

72

Request a correction

Paper Authors

biography

Erick S. Vasquez University of Dayton

visit author page

Erick S. Vasquez is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering at the University of Dayton. Dr. Vasquez earned his B.Sc. degree in chemical engineering at Universidad Centroamericana Jose Simeon Cañas (UCA) in El Salvador. He received his M.Sc. degree in chemical engineering from Clemson University and his Ph.D. degree in chemical engineering from Mississippi State University. His research focuses on the development and applications of nanomaterials in separation processes and the design of advanced composite materials. With regards to engineering educational research, Vasquez is working on the analysis of assessment methods to improve teamwork, open-ended laboratory experiments, and on implementing computational tools to understand Transport Phenomena concepts. Vasquez has taught the Unit Operation Laboratories for four years.

visit author page

biography

Zachary West University of Dayton Research Institute

visit author page

Dr. Zachary West is a Senior Research Engineer in the Fuels & Combustion Division at the University of Dayton Research Institute and a Graduate Faculty member at the University of Dayton. He received a B.S. in chemical engineering from Tri-State University, Angola, IN, a M.S. in chemical engineering from the University of Dayton, Dayton, OH, and a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the University of Dayton. Zach’s primary area of research is aviation turbine fuel characterization and performance. He has instructed Unit Operations Laboratory for the past three years.

visit author page

biography

Matthew J DeWitt University of Dayton

visit author page

Matthew DeWitt is a Distinguished Research Engineer at the University of Dayton Research Institute. He received his B.S. in chemical engineering from The Ohio State University and his Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Northwestern University. His research interests are related to aviation fuel chemistry and engineering applications, including characterizing and understanding the performance of fuels at high and low temperatures, developing methods for quantifying particulate and gaseous emissions from combustion sources, and evaluating the potential use of Alternative Fuels and additives. He has been an instructor in the Unit Operations Laboratory at UD for eight years.

visit author page

biography

Michael J. Elsass University of Dayton

visit author page

Michael Elsass is the Director of the Chemical Engineering Department at the University of Dayton. He received his B.Ch.E in chemical engineering from the University of Dayton and his M.S. and Ph.D. in chemical engineering from The Ohio State University. He then served two years as a post-doctoral researcher at both The Ohio State University and UCLA. His research interests are process systems engineering, process diagnosis, and simulation and modeling. He has instructed the Unit Operations Laboratory for four years.

visit author page

biography

Donald A Comfort University of Dayton

visit author page

Don Comfort is an Associate Professor in the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering at the University of Dayton. Don earned his B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering from Case Western Reserve University and Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from North Carolina State University. His research utilizes biochemical engineering techniques applied to bioenergy systems. Don has taught a wide variety of chemical engineering undergraduate and graduate classes and is interested in group performance assessment.

visit author page

Download Paper |

Abstract

The Chemical Engineering unit operations laboratory provides a unique hands-on experience in engineering experimentation on pilot-scale equipment. During a semester of unit operations laboratory, student experiments cover the following topics: fluid flow, heat transfer, and separation processes. In addition, the students perform an operability study (e.g., reverse osmosis, spray drying, injection molding) to obtain practical experience of atypical chemical engineering unit operations. After completing three full experiments and one short operability study, students are required to work on a final study whereby they are required to define their experimental objective(s) and parameters of study. This final experiment is structured as an open-ended experience, however, the students have limitations in what materials can be used (due to cost and safety considerations) and the experimental variables that can be manipulated (due to equipment limitations). Final experiments are based upon existing equipment within the laboratory, and each group selects their preferred equipment. Students must extend these experiments past the typical format of defining an objective, obtaining data and providing data analysis found in the earlier experiments. Examples of final experiment extensions involve equipment redesign, operating on novel materials, or using/developing advanced models and correlations during data analysis and interpretation. Also, since laboratory groups consist of three to four students, it has been a challenge to assign topics of interest to everyone in a single group. Here, we seek to enhance the final experiment experience in the unit operations laboratory by providing students with experiments in the context of environmental stewardship, alternative energy, and sustainable farming with available technology. The intention is to have students select their project based on their interests in one of the above topics and reorganize groups around these themes with the goal of having more group members interested in their final experiment. A new final experiment assigned this year involves developing biodiesel using a continuous-stirred tank reactor (CSTR). Due to safety considerations, there are not many different undergraduate CSTR experiments typically implemented in a unit operation laboratory course. One of the most common experiments is the saponification reaction of ethyl acetate and a base. Finding an alternative reaction that is both safe and suitable for a teaching laboratory is a challenge. Here, we propose using the transesterification reaction between oil and alcohol with a catalyst. For this project, the students are challenged: (1) to run the reaction with ethanol—a solvent commonly used in undergraduate laboratory experiments—instead of methanol to promote a safe laboratory environment, and (2) to find the yield of the reaction to add this topic to the initial round of experiments. The groups worked collaboratively on defining experimental conditions, such as the type of oil to use, the mixing conditions, volumetric flow rates, temperature conditions, catalyst type and amount, and the oil to alcohol ratio. Available characterization equipment for the biodiesel production included a refractometer, a UV-Vis probe, and a gas chromatograph. Ultimately, the students reported their technical findings for this new CSTR experiment by delivering a team presentation and a final report.

Vasquez, E. S., & West, Z., & DeWitt, M. J., & Elsass, M. J., & Comfort, D. A. (2019, June), Work in Progress: Implementing an Open-Ended Laboratory Experience in the Unit Operations Laboratory with an Alternative CSTR Reaction Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33626

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2019 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015