Chemical Engineering Laboratories and Facilities

Separations students taking process measurements during an Absorption experimentThe Chemical Engineering Laboratory is a wholly new state-of-the-art, hands-on teaching and research laboratory - a showpiece of the department and the University. In the laboratory, students will have the opportunity to operate equipment similar to that found in chemical plants, oil refineries, and research facilities. The laboratory forms a cornerstone of experiential learning in Chemical Engineering at Kettering, where students will learn the applications of absorption, adsorption, filtration, distillation, reaction engineering, heat exchange and recovery, and process controls, to name a few. Kettering University is unique among Chemical Engineering Programs in the nation in that there are five distinct laboratory courses in Unit Operations, Separations, Applied Transport Phenomena, Reaction Engineering and Process Control.

In addition to the Chemical Engineering Teaching Laboratory, the department is in final planning for Phase 2 of the program including a student design studio, chemical and experimental preparation room, and additional teaching and research space.

Process Equipment

Some of Kettering’s present suite of chemical engineering process equipment is shown below, with more additions being made in the coming year.

Absorption — Is a separation process where the non-diffusing contacting phases are a gas and a liquid with the mobile phase is a gas or a liquid. A good example of this is scrubbing sulfur dioxide, a component of acid rain, from flue gases using an alkaline solution. At Kettering, students evaluate the absorption of carbon dioxide from air using water with an absorption column packed with Raschig rings. For these labs, students determine optimal operating parameters, column sizing, and pressure drop characteristics.

Armfield Fixed Bed Adsorption UOP15

Adsorption — Is a separation process where one or more components of a liquid or gas stream are adsorbed on the surface or pores of a solid adsorbent. A household example of this is the adsorption of certain chemical species using a water filter and pitcher. Another example is emission controls on cars. Adsorption is an exothermic, or a process that generates heat. In these labs, students determine the temperature profile of a packed adsorption bed, optimal operating parameters, and bed sizing using carbon dioxide, helium, and activated carbon.


Micromeritics ASAB 2020 Surface Area and Porosity AnalyzerChemisorption — is a type of adsorption which is important in catalytic chemical reactions, in which a gas or liquid is adsorbed at a solid surface. Catalysts are used to facilitate and expedite chemical reactions and are integral to the economic productivity of society. In chemisorption, an adsorbed molecule is highly reactive. Catalytic reactions are important in production of chemical commodities. At Kettering, students study the chemisorption of various gases on porous catalytic materials to determine surface area, porosity, and catalytic effects.  Kettering Chemical Engineering has a Micromeritics ASAB 2020 Surface Area and Porosity Analyzer.

Armfield Distillation Column UOP3Distillation — is used in a variety of separation processes and involves separating one volatile liquid from another liquid. A common example going back into antiquity is the distillation of ethanol from water to produce hard liquor. Distillation is prevalently used to fractionate crude oil to produce gasoline, kerosene, diesel fuel, heating oils, and other commodities. Students study the operation of an eight sieve-tray distillation column separating alcohols from water at partial and total reflux conditions. In these labs, students perform detailed mass and energy balances involving vapor-liquid equilibrium.  Shown:  Armfield Distillation Column UOP3




Armfield Filtration Unit UOP12Filtration — is another well established separation technology going back into antiquity involving the removal of suspended solids from liquids. Filtration is used in a wide variety of applications from bag houses at power plants removing particulates from flue gas to removal of fines from soybean slurries. For the filtration laboratory, student learn how to operate, size, and characterize a multiplate filtration system separating calcium carbonate from water. Shown:  Armfield Filtration Unit UOP12.


Armfield Heat Exchanger Unit HT30XCHeat Exchange — Efficient heat recovery is essential for effective energy management which directly impacts a chemical plant’s profitability. There are several different heat exchanger laboratories that are offered. Some laboratories include condensing vapors to produce liquids, shell and tube heat exchangers, and heaters. Shown below is one of the several different heat exchange laboratories that is offered. Shown:  Armfield Heat Exchanger Unit HT30XC.



Armfield Chemical Reactor Service Unit with Continuously Stirred Tank ReactorReactors — Reaction engineering involves the selection, sizing, design, operation, and troubleshooting of chemical reactors. Chemical reactors are used to convert lower value reactants into higher value commodities are used throughout the world to produce polymers, plastics, fuel, food, paints, chemical commodities, and the like. At Kettering, students learn to determine reaction kinetics, reactor troubleshooting, sizing and safe operation using batch reactors, a plug flow reactor, a continuously stirred tank reactor, and packed bed reactor, the four classical chemical reactor systems. Shown: Armfield Chemical Reactor Service Unit with Continuously Stirred Tank Reactor.

Brookfield DV-II+Pro Viscosity/Rheology — Viscosity and rheology is the study of how fluid flows under changing shear, a critically important topic for sizing pumps, heat exchangers, pipes, and other process steps for moving liquid for one location to another. Not all fluids flow the same. For example, pure water, a newtonian fluid, has a viscosity that is relatively constant with increasing flow rate and pressure. In contrast, for corn starch solutions the viscosity increases with increasing shear, so when someone tries to move cornstarch solutions abruptly it is difficult (try forcing a hand through a mixture versus just slipping it in). Viscosity measurements make up part of the process measurements laboratories. Shown below is a Brookfield Viscometer for determining newtonian and non-newtonian behavior. Shown: Brookfield DV-II+Pro




Major Analytical Hardware

To support the experiential learning laboratories, the teaching laboratory has an array of analytical hardware:

  • Agilent 7890A Gas Chromatograph (GC) with Flame Ionization Detector (FID) and Thermal Conductivity Detector (TCD). Used for qualitative analysis (what chemical is it?) and quantitative analysis (how much of a specific chemical?)
  • Micromeritics ASAB2020 Surface Area and Porosity Analyzer. Used for porous solids and catalyst characterization.
  • Varian UV-Visible Spectrophotometer. Used for quantitative analysis.
  • Reichart Refractometer. Used for quantitative analysis.
  • Brookfield DV-II+Pro Viscometer. Used for fluid characterization.
  • Metler Toledo DE45 Density meter. Used for density measurement and fluid characterization.
  • Analytical balances and glassware including capillary viscometers.