Front and Center
Seniors in the Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering returned from winter break to receive another gift—a new Unit Operations Lab.
The department hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony Jan. 6 to mark the lab’s move from the first floor of Othmer Hall to the basement.
The new lab mimics a factory so students can use equipment similar to that found in factories and research labs, said William Velander, chair of chemical & biomolecular engineering. It also features enhanced utility hookups necessary for chemical processing.
“This is really a beautiful facility. It’s a state-of-the-art unit operations lab,” Velander said.
The lab is used for Chemical Engineering 430, a senior capstone class. It has stations for chemical reactions, continuous and batch distillation and other devices used to separate chemical mixtures. Students can control equipment manually, or remotely from a control room overlooking the workspace.
Construction began in early 2005. The space was configured for equipment that uses steam, pressurized air, heated and cooled water, and electricity. Velander said the lab is unique because the services needed to operate chemical processing equipment are at a significantly larger scale than those needed in a typical chemistry lab.
“Students need to have hands-on knowledge so they know how to work in the industry,” said Leonard Akert, lab manager. “This room is much better for that type of operation.”