Teaching Lab

The Undergraduate Teaching Lab is used for the two required senior-year lab courses in Chemical and Biological Engineering. The lab is located in room 167 of the Science and Technology Center and contains analytical equipment such as gas chromatograph and spectrophotometers as well as standard wet lab equipment including a fume hood, incubators and ovens, micro-balances, centrifuge, glassware, laptops and storage for chemical and biological materials. The lab also houses project-specific equipment such as a hydrogen fuel cell, an adsorption column, and a distillation apparatus.

The ChBE 51 Undergraduate Laboratory course, taken in the fall semester, gives the students an opportunity to apply the theoretical concepts, calculations, and modeling techniques learned in the classroom to data they collect in the laboratory. They also learn new experimental techniques and the use of specialized lab equipment. There are seven different experimental setups and the students rotate through them in groups of two or three. Each experiment requires two weeks to complete. The current experiments are:

  • Carbon Capture by Adsorption
  • Enzyme Kinetics
  • Fuel Cell Optimization
  • DNA Plasmid Analysis
  • Membrane Fabrication & Characterization
  • Gene Expression & Protein Extraction
  • Separations Techniques for the Production of Biodiesel from Food Waste

The ChBE 52 Projects Laboratory course, taken in the spring semester, provides students an opportunity to execute open-ended experimental projects in an area of practical interest. The students work in teams of three or four on a project supervised by ChBE faculty and/or industrial technical advisor. To bring their project to a successful conclusion, each team must not only analyze data, but also design some of the key aspects or experiments of their project. Projects undertaken by recent BSChE seniors include:

  • Biodiesel Fuel – synthesize biodiesel ether using a catalytic reaction that converts two alcohol molecules into an ether molecule and water, then study the reaction kinetics and fuel properties  
  • Control of a Polymerization Reactor – use machine learning to design a non-linear control mechanism for a batch polymerization reactor
  • Polymer Membranes - synthesize and characterize membranes containing a fouling-resistant constituent
  • Adaptive Laboratory Evolution – evolve complex behaviors in cells by growing multiple generations under non-ideal conditions
  • Problem-solving for Cultured Meat Production – design a method of removing toxins from cell growth media to allow it to be reused and thus to reduce production costs
  • Carbon Dioxide Capture - synthesize and characterize a lithium zirconate sorbent suitable for high temperature CO2 capture
  • Machine Learning – grow aggregate cells under different conditions and analyze the resulting shapes, then use this data as inputs to an artificial neural network for the prediction of outcomes under the tested conditions
  • Wearable Hydrogels for Medical Uses – synthesize gels with different relative concentrations of the constituents then devise a method for testing the breathability to determine the best candidate
  • Cell Encapsulation – synthesize and test a method for encasing cells in a permeable shell for cell therapy with the purpose of protecting them from the body’s immune system while at the same time allowing the cells to receive oxygen and nutrients