DESIGNING A CHEMICAL REACTOR IN LAB PRACTICES BY INDUSTRIAL ENGINEERING STUDENTS
Currently, there are two very different models of university education. One of them is the traditional model, where lecturers teach knowledge and students do not actively take part in the educational process. The other kind is more innovative, based on stimulation and students motivation. The second teaching system includes different strategies. These strategies are innovative in some cases, or were devised years ago and are in vogue again thanks to the interest of promoting student autonomy and other important values like creativity in science degrees.
Our students begin to acquire certain knowledge in the classroom. The aim of our work was to improve this knowledge by implementing an experiment designed by students. This experiment improved creativity and work in groups. It also gave students the chance to check that theoretical phenomena, explained in class by the lecturer, can be demonstrated in the laboratory.
Material and Method:
The 26 students who participated in this experiment had registered for the “Design of Chemical Processes” Subject. This subject is included in the Master of Industrial Engineering at the School of Industrial Engineers in Albacete (Spain), which belongs to the University of Castilla-La Mancha.
The work was divided into three parts. Firstly, students had to design and build a batch chemical reactor with an isothermal, homogeneous and stirred tank. They had to perform several chemical reactions with their corresponding measures. Students only had the basic material normally found in general chemistry labs. Secondly, with the data obtained experimentally and a simple database, all the feasible information about these chemical reactions was obtained. Thirdly, the results were compared with the data obtained from theoretical formulas drawn from the available scientific literature. Finally, by means of a specifically designed questionnaire, student satisfaction with this work was assessed.
Results and conclusions:
The students who participated in this experiment demonstrated having acquired some knowledge through experimental work. This new knowledge was acquired in a relatively short time, and the new experiment motivated students’ creativity to design a “homemade” chemical reactor. The experimental work helped them acquire an understanding of theoretical knowledge related to the experiment. Student satisfaction was high, 100% in 95% of the surveyed students.
- Scott Fogler H. y Nihat Gürmen M. Engineering elements of chemical reactions. Pearson Prentice Hall. 2008
- Vian Ortuño, A. Introducción a la química industrial. Reverté. 1999.