Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
LE11 3TU
+44 (0)1509 222222
Loughborough University

Chemical Engineering

News and Events

Teaching Laboratory Rigs

September 14

As part of the Department of Chemical Engineering’s continued drive to enhance the Learning Experience through their Teaching Laboratories, funding was sought and won earlier in the year for four new outstanding Teaching Laboratory ‘Rigs’, which are now in situ and will be ready for use in the new academic year.

Head of Department elect Professor Richard Holdich commented:

“Chemical Engineering at Loughborough prides itself on graduating engineers with excellent practical skills, due in part to our successful Industrial Training Year, but also due to the tremendous dedication of the excellent technical staff who run the laboratories and the commitment to continually invest in these laboratories. So, whilst other universities are cutting back on laboratory provision (due to increasing student numbers) we are investing and enhancing our engineering laboratory provision and we will continue to do so. Engineering laboratory experiences are fundamental to the training of successful engineering graduates.”

Laboratory supervisor Sean Creedon is excited about the new additions to the existing taught experiments:

“this has been a tremendous investment by the University in our undergraduate teaching. With our students entering an increasingly competitive jobs market it is crucial that we are able to give them the experiences and skills to enable them to take those first important steps.

“The new teaching rigs cover the gamut from physically unbolting valves with a wrench to operating equipment most typically found in the oil and gas industries. This investment will no doubt serve to enhance the learning experience and enhance our Pilot laboratory provision.”

Three Phase Separator (oil – gas – water)

Three Phase Separator

Since the mid-1800s it has been a challenge for Oil Engineers to separate the valuable (oil) from the disposable (water) at high flow rates. Along with water production there are emulsions and dispersions which are even more difficult to treat. As a result, the separation process is becoming increasingly complex as we seek to recover the last drop of oil from the reservoir.

One of the key elements in this process is the employment of a three phase separator where selected parameters are controlled in order to separate oil, water and gas into three separate outlet streams.

The new three phase separator comes with software that replicates what is found in an industrial Distributed Control System (DCS). The model used is based on equipment used on an oil/gas wellhead in the North Sea.

The total educational capability of the system therefore includes all aspects of Three Phase Separation learning from a highly visual interpretation to an engineering analysis of fluid component separation under various flow, temperature and pressure conditions.

Continuous Rectification

Continuous Rectification

Distillation and Rectification are thermal processes used to separate or purify liquid mixtures whose constituents are wholly miscible with one another.

The result of the separation obtained by distillation is not sufficient in all cases. To improve separation, the collected distillate has to be distilled repeatedly until the material has been satisfactorily enriched.  Multiple stage distillation of this type is, however, expensive and energy intensive.

Rectification can be understood as being multi ‘stage’ distillation, but with just one evaporator and one condenser. This improves efficiency because at the transition from one ‘stage’ to the next, the vapour does not have to be first condensed and then reheated and evaporated.

The new Continuous Rectification experiment is a welcome addition to the existing suite of Mass Transfer experiments. With its capacity for batch or continuous operation, plate or packed column, ambient pressure or vacuum operation it offers the student myriad opportunities to explore this mainstay of industrial process separation. Moreover, control of operations can be undertaken either locally at the panel itself, or remotely using the PC interfaced control software.

pH value Control

pH Value Control

Most of us can remember performing a simple acid-base titration in our school days. However, have you ever considered what it would be like performing such an operation on an industrial scale?

The new pH value controller is an addition to the existing taught module of Process Control and allows the operator to explore the very question of continuous industrial pH control.

Joining an existing suite of ten level control experiments, this new addition broadens the scope of the subject to acidity control and neutralisation reactions.

As with the existing experiments it is software controlled with real time data capture. It also allows the students to explore the facets of PID control whose theory they have already studied and adjust parameters in a working process. The students therefore get a feel for system performance and, as with all of the control experiments, develop an understanding of overshoot versus speed of response.

Pumps, Valves and Fittings Test Stand

Pumps, Valves and Fittings

Whilst understanding the principles of operation of individual pieces of equipment is an important element of Chemical Engineering, one must also have a practical understanding of how items of process plant link together. Not only does the type of fitting have a bearing on system performance but how this fitting impacts on an adjacent part and the so called ‘ripple effect’ must never be ignored.

The new Pumps, Valves and Fittings test stand allows students to physically replace industrial size valves and fittings in a pumped water system and measure the subsequent effects.

The system, which allows pump speed and valve opening to be adjusted and pressure drops recorded, gives students all the information they require to calculate coefficients of resistance and to construct characteristic curves of valve performance. This is crucial information in process plant design as the size of fitting, type and response of fitting can all have an influence on the overall process performance.


Contact us

Department of Chemical Engineering
Loughborough University
LE11 3TU

+44 (0)1509 222 533