(97c) Process Prototype Design and Fabrication | AIChE

(97c) Process Prototype Design and Fabrication


Wenzel, J. - Presenter, Kettering University
Quite often chemical engineering students will get to test the fundamentals of what they learn in the classroom in the laboratory such as unit operations, fluid and heat transfer, and reaction kinetics. However, it is rare that they get the chance to design and fabricate prototype systems. Indeed, allowing students to design and build laboratory scale chemical engineering hardware can enable creativity, resourcefulness, and awareness of the intricacies of how hardware is assembled and operates. Fundamentally, it allows students to engage in an open-ended creative process and build awareness of process safety. The class starts with a set of needs for equipment in the Unit Operations Lab or a research group. Each student prepares a sketch and makes a pitch of a possible solution to the need. At each stage in the design process, the potential solutions are reduced until only one remains the project teams are formed to refine the design and build the hardware. The final deliverable is a demonstration of the hardware with an operations manual. This elective course has been offered twice at Kettering University and while it is capital intensive, the resulting hardware is durable enough to be used in the teaching laboratory. In fact, the course is less expensive than purchasing teaching hardware from vendors. Some hardware is remains functional after five years. Fabricated systems include fermenters, fluidized beds, plug flow reactors, and Labview data acquisition systems. Examples of the design process, the course, and developed hardware will be presented.