(414d) Food Experiments in the Unit Operations Lab
AIChE Annual Meeting
2007 Annual Meeting
Food for Thought
Wednesday, November 7, 2007 - 1:45pm to 2:10pm
The junior level ?Unit Operations I' laboratory course is found in most undergraduate chemical engineering curriculums. The objectives of this lab usually include development of technical writing abilities, reinforcement of concepts learned in previous lecture courses and the acquisition of hands-on experience. Experiments normally involve operation and analysis of small-scale industrial equipment (e.g., a centrifugal pump, a fluidized bed, an evaporator system) or analysis of some basic physical phenomenon (e.g., heat transfer via conduction, viscosity of Newtonian and non-Newtonian fluids). Food related experiments are typically not included in the curriculum. This can prove to be disadvantageous to students who later pursue a career in a food processing field.
Recently Auburn University's Chemical Engineering Department incorporated a food experiment into the schedule of the Unit Ops I course. Student groups were told to ?develop an experiment dealing with food that will teach you something?. They were presented with equipment that they could use (e.g., an EASY-BAKE Oven) but were not put under any limitations other than that of practicality. A variety of experiments resulted from this assignment including a look into the relationship between boiling time and spaghetti stickiness, the design of a method to determine fat content of liquids and an analysis of cookie baking. One proposed experiment delved into the mysteries of making butter. This proposal was refined and used in later terms of the laboratory course. This paper describes the experiment proposals in detail and reports on our experiences in incorporating the ?butter experiment' into the unit operations lab course.
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