The goal of this course is to provide an elementary understanding and skill to carry out material balance calculations. A simplified microalgae-to-fuel overall process is posed. Four unit processes that are key elements in the overall process are presented in some detail as worked examples. The examples are the main vehicle of instruction.
The course begins with a brief general discussion of process calculations and will be limited to mass balance computations. The important role of flow diagrams and choosing a basis for calculation is emphasized. A brief discussion of some important characteristic of microalgae is followed by a description of a model algae composition model that will be used in the examples. Microalgae have been chosen because of the strong interest as a potential starting material for producing fuels. An overall algae-to-fuel process is described with a flow diagram that includes unit processes that will be presented as worked examples. The various approaches using mass balance of chemical elements, mass and mole balances will be covered in the four examples.
This course would be relevant to any practicing engineer who has a need for evaluating the role that microalgae may play in producing fuels. Chemical Engineers and Mechanical Engineers may find this course a useful review. Civil Engineers and Environmental Engineers may choose this course to gain, at an elementary level, an ability to compute basic parameters required for the initial design, analysis or evaluation of processes related to algae-based fuel production and other processes in general.
It is assumed that the student possesses basic math skills, at least a rudimentary knowledge of chemistry and a basic working knowledge of EXCEL. EXCEL programs are provided in the course material that can be accessed and modified as needed. The EXCEL programs provided may be used to work out some of the quiz problems.
To receive PDH credit for this course, the student must pass a multiple-choice quiz consisting of thirty (30) questions.
Specific Knowledge or Skill Obtained
This course teaches the following specific knowledge and skills:
- Application of flow diagrams for visual description of unit processes of with examples
- Basis of calculation with applications to unit process examples
- Composition of microalgae for application to mass balance computations
- Mass balance calculations examples using conservation of chemical elements, constituent molar quantities, and mass fractions and stream mass flows
- Application of stoichiometric relationships to unit processes with chemical reaction
- Algal drying process calculations
- Calculations for lipid extraction with hexane and lipid recovery mass balances
- Computations of chemical conversion of algal lipids to fuel feed stock including separations, recycle and mixing streams
- Gasification calculations for syngas from residual algal mass
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