Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation

5-2020

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

M. Eng.

Department

Chemical Engineering

Degree Program

JB Speed School of Engineering

Committee Chair

Willing, Gerald

Committee Member

Gerstle, Jim

Committee Member

Roussel, Thomas

Author's Keywords

LabVIEW; State Machine

Abstract

Unit Operations labs are important tools to provide hands-on learning with various chemical processes. The distillation lab experiment allows students to connect equations and definitions from textbooks to the physical processes of distillation as they occur. LabVIEW was the software development tool used to create a program to control the distillation column from startup to shutdown. Improvements were made to both the distillation process equipment and the LabVIEW code to create a more interactive lab experience, enhance students’ conceptual understanding of distillation, and prepare students for their future career as chemical engineers.

Equipment addressed included non-linear valves, malfunctioning temperature and differential pressure measurements, unnecessary piping in the system, and inaccessible equipment. The University of Louisville partnered with C&I Engineering in order to develop a redesign of the distillation column system to improve equipment accessibility. Upgrades to the LabVIEW code were made, including converting the overall architecture to a state machine, isolating the logic operations, and removing unnecessary code.

Improvements made within the scope of this project have produced a safe yet adaptable foundation for the distillation lab and software. The proposed redesign will create a more streamlined process, better suited to enhance the student learning experience. The updated LabVIEW code is safer for operating the distillation column, allows for an increase in process control, and can be easily adapted for future projects to meet evolving learning objectives.

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