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Understanding the behavior of Continuous Stirred-Tank Reactors (CSTR) and Plug Flow Reactors (PFR) is vital to graduates of the University of Dayton’s Chemical Engineering Program. This primarily is due to the widespread usage of these reactor types in commercial settings; therefore, students should be exposed to ‘hands-on’ laboratory experiences with these type of reactors prior joining the Chemical Engineering workforce. Realizing that the Unit Operations Laboratory is a capstone class, and it lacked adequate education on such reactors, experiments were developed and performed on both types of reactors to establish empirical standards of reaction kinetics and rates that can be used to guide the education of future undergraduate chemical engineering students. Overall, the CSTR and PFR reactors were used to develop theoretical and empirical understandings of the reactor systems based on calibration of reactor system mechanics; non-reactive qualitative experiments; and bimolecular-reactive experiments. Specifically, the saponification reaction between Sodium Hydroxide and Ethyl Acetate producing Sodium Acetate and Ethyl Alcohol was the primary reaction analyzed in this work. As a quantitative result, models of the studied reaction in both types of reactors were developed and compared. In addition to this common experiment, reactions for future studies to be tested by undergraduate students using green solvents and reactants are suggested. Ultimately, this work will lay the foundation of chemical reactor analysis in the Unit Operations Laboratory at the University of Dayton.

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Course Project

Primary Advisor

Michael J Elsass, Erick Vasquez

Primary Advisor's Department

Chemical Engineering


Stander Symposium poster


Presenter: Alex R Paschal

Using and Implementing Continuous Stirred-Tank Reactors and Plug Flow Reactors to Study Reactions in Undergraduate Chemical Engineering