(142f) Developing Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science Acumen through Optimization of the Chocolate Process

Authors: 
Miller, A., United States Military Academy
Armstrong, M., United States Military Academy
Nagelli, E. A., United States Military Academy
Maintaining interest and motivation in science education continues to decline with increasing age [1]. However, extracurricular and guided inquiry laboratory experiences have been shown to promote interest [2]. Thus, the Chocolate Club, a sub-group of the United States Military Academy’s American Institute of Chemical Engineers, combines chemical engineering and analytical science acumen and knowledge through the production of a consumable product, chocolate. Cadets design the chocolate process by identifying the product (such as 70% dark chocolate), ingredients, and specific process details such as mixing standards and refinement time. They extend their design to analyze products and compare between products using Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy, thermogravimetric analysis, differential scanning calorimetry and rheology.

We will discuss the connection between the chocolate process and the chemical engineering topics of heat transfer, separations, batch reactors and kinetic analysis. We will also discuss the significance of the analytical topics of Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy, thermogravimetric analysis, differential scanning calorimetry and rheology. This will be done with an example product of milk chocolate. The process will be discussed and connected with chemical engineering topics. We will then walk through the individual results of the analytical techniques and compare these results with various seed chocolates and refinement times (variations in the chocolate process). The analysis will focus on the comparison of the various procedures and the results of a blind taste test. The data analysis will also include fitting the rheological data to the Casson model using the genetic algorithm.

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