(389a) Pedagogical and Learning Advantages Realizable through Scaling and Non-Dimensionalization

Samavedham, L. - Presenter, National University of Singapore
Krantz, W. B. - Presenter, University of Colorado
Sukumar, B. - Presenter, Carnegie Mellon University

Through this presentation, we would like to focus on the ways of teaching chemical engineering to graduate students with an emphasis on equipping them with research capabilities. In other words, we highlight on how important it is to ?learn? or ?perform research? in chemical engineering through systematic approach rather than by ad hoc approaches. Many simplifying assumptions seen in transport phenomena and chemical reaction processes like creeping flow, boundary layer, penetration theory, plug flow etc. are offered to students without any systematic explanations [1]. Scaling analysis is a systematic method which explains the rationale behind these concepts thereby helping the students to grasp the fundamentals in an effective manner. The idea behind scaling is nondimensionalizing and balancing the terms in the system of equations to be of order one. By substituting the operating variables, the significance of each term representing a specific phenomenon of the system can be calculated appropriately. This helps in approximating the concerned system by eliminating the less dominant terms leading to models of reduced complexity. Thus, through scaling, a concrete reason can be detected for approximating or simplifying any phenomena [2]. Moreover, several computational problems occur while finding out a numerical solution of chemical engineering problems. Scaling analysis can help to devise robust computing strategies to find numerical solutions. Examples for the above mentioned arguments to justify the strengths and usefulness of scaling analysis as a pedagogical tool with a research perspective will be demonstrated in detail.


1)Krantz, W.B., Sczechowski, J.G. Scaling initial and boundary value problems: a tool in engineering teaching and practice. Chemical Engineering Education. 1994, 28(4): 236-253.

2)Krantz, W.B. An alternative method for teaching and implementing dimensional analysis. Chemical Engineering Education. 2000, 34(3): 216-221.