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FROM LAB TO LARGE SCALE: APPLICATION OF COLLABORATIVE MODELING TOOLS IN THE SUBJECT CHEMICAL TECHNOLOGY

E. Rosales, M. Pazos, M.A. Sanroman

Universidad de Vigo (SPAIN)
The School of Industrial Engineering of the University of Vigo is devoted to teach in the field of Industrial Engineering, through a versatile and up-to-date academic offer of several bachelor’s degree programs. To respond to the new societal demands, new strategies based on collaborative learning, critical thinking, manipulative activities and teamwork have been performed in several bachelor degrees such as Industrial Technologies Engineering, more specifically in the subject Chemical Technology.

Bearing in mind these concepts, the educational trends in the field of science and technology are furthering new learning experiences. The traced strategy pursued the combination of theoretical concepts of chemical engineering with empirical data related to the production of a chemical product of commercial interest. The selected chemical product must trigger a great academic interest because of their enormous versatility to be applied in a plethora of industrial sectors. Since the operation in industrial processes usually involves extreme conditions, the students must find the optimal operational conditions based on:
i) productive,
ii) economical,
ii) energetic and
iv) environmental perspective that is crucial for achieving efficient outcomes.

Thus, the students focus their efforts on to design the process at bench-scale and extrapolate the information to large scale. In this way, the learning process covered different stages of the chemical engineering process, from sampling and products quantification to start a process at laboratory scale and finally to design a process based on the information recollected. The students have then faced the typical equipment and techniques commonly used in a research laboratory, as a prior step to approach the modeling of the experimental data. For simulation purposes, the students use a process simulation software such as DWSIM. The reasons behind the proposal of this learning strategy for bachelor’s degree students are the learning based on experimental data applying all the theoretical concepts teach in initial classes. The students are able to obtain experimental data for the simulation of the process at industrial scale. Therefore, it is possible to explore the research capabilities of the students in a hot topic such as the production of new chemical product of interest.

The high level of satisfaction among the students (evaluated by means of surveys) and the results of the exams qualifications encourage us to widen the present methodology in the future.