Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering News

Dominion Resources Supports Lab Upgrade

Dominion Resources Supports Lab Upgrade

group photo

Students and faculty in the Unit Operations Laboratory with Mark Reaser, director of operations at Dominion's Cove Point LNG Terminal (center, holding check).

The Clark School's Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering's (ChBE) primary teaching lab will soon host a new piece of core equipment thanks to a gift from Dominion Resources, one of the nation's largest producers and suppliers of electricity and natural gas.

The Dominion Foundation awarded ChBE a $30,000 grant to fund the purchase of a new heat exchanger system for the department's Unit Operations Lab, where all students majoring in chemical engineering learn to use and manage the pilot plant apparatus and facilities they will encounter in the field. In a ceremony held in the lab on September 11, Mark Reaser, director of operations at Dominion's Cove Point LNG Terminal in southern Maryland, presented ChBE professor and chair Sheryl Ehrman with the check.

The department's existing heat exchanger station, which is used to demonstrate heat transfer from one medium to another, was hand-built more than 15 years ago and is completely manual in operation. The new computer-controlled instrument, from Armfield, is an educational system designed to allow students to experiment with hot and cold fluids, visualize fundamental concepts, test process control strategies and record data.

"The experiment lets the students see how the theory of heat transfer that they learned in transport [class] is applied to an actual piece of equipment," explained Assistant Professor Amy Karlsson, who co-teaches the unit operations course. "They can run the system using different configurations and see how their experiment results compare with theoretical calculations." She added that the new exchanger will help modernize the lab.

Ehrman explained to the assembled guests that the new heat exchanger would have impact beyond the senior-level course in which it is most commonly used. "We want to use this new station, along with a few other changes we'll be making to the lab, as a way to show elementary, middle and high school students who come to campus for open houses and summer camps, on a small scale, what chemical engineers do," she said. "This is a great way to demonstrate chemical engineering in action."

"I appreciate the opportunity to present this contribution to the project here today on behalf of the Dominion Foundation," Reaser said, adding that since 1996, the company has bestowed over $3 million in science-, math-, education-, and outreach-related grants.

The Clark School's Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs and Graduate Programs, Professor Peter Kofinas (Fischell Department of Bioengineering), thanked the Dominion Foundation at the ceremony. "We're really excited about Dominion's investment in our students," he said, "and we're really looking forward to a lasting relationship."

Related Articles:
Unit Ops Lab Featured on Capital Campaign Site
Lowe Bequest Funds Lab Innovations

September 18, 2012


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