(495h) A Reactor Design Experiment Using Rapid Prototyping | AIChE

(495h) A Reactor Design Experiment Using Rapid Prototyping


Anastasio, D. - Presenter, University of Connecticut
Kadilak, A. L., University of Connecticut
Suresh, A., University of Connecticut
Burkey, D. D., University of Connecticut

As 3D printers become more commonplace, there is a push to integrate elements of rapid prototyping into engineering curricula.  With the ability to produce custom parts with relative speed and minimal waste, 3D printers offer a unique opportunity for students to experience the iterative design process.  In this experiment, designed for senior chemical engineering undergraduates, students design a small-scale continuous flow reactor in a CAD software package (in this case, SolidWorks).  Students then print the reactor using a FormLabs Form1 3D printer and test it using a saponification reaction of isopropyl acetate and sodium hydroxide.  Once students have tested several flow rates and residence times for this reactor, students are encouraged to design a new reactor that they think will allow for better conversion.  Students print and test this new reactor as well.  Students are also encouraged to model the reactor in COMSOL to verify their results.

Student learning opportunities from this experiment include examination of laminar flow reactors, consideration of variables that impact mixing in laminar flow regimes, Arrhenius reaction kinetics, use of CAD software, and use of predictive modeling software.  Students who have completed this experiment are generally excited to be working with the 3D printer.  Generally, students with no previous CAD experience are able to produce a reactor channel by the end of the first laboratory period.  Students also demonstrate an understanding of reaction kinetics and reactor design when redesigning their device to improve conversion.