Compared to liquids and gases, chemical engineers’ education in bulk solids is relatively limited. Perhaps that’s why whenever I visit a chemical plant, I can easily identify which lines or equipment handle bulk solids – they are the ones with all the hammer marks.
Project engineers at Jenike & Johanson like myself often provide training on a variety of subjects involving bulk solids handling, including flow properties testing and methods to design reliable hoppers, bins, silos, feeders, transfer chutes, and pneumatic conveying systems. In addition, I am an adjunct professor at the University of Rhode Island. The university does not pay me, but I am able to embellish my Linkedin profile.
Last fall and spring, I directed a group of four chemical engineering students who worked on an independent study project in which they measured the fundamental flow properties of pharmaceutical formulations. By conducting shear cell tests, they were able to optimize the flowability of several powder blends, that is, reduce their cohesive strength to prevent arching in a bin and to lower their wall friction to allow mass flow. I’m sure that dealing with me for an entire year was a headache, but fortunately the active ingredient of the formulations was acetaminophen.
The students presented their work at the American Institute of Chemical Engineers Northeast Regional Student Conference last spring. I am proud to report that they finished third out of about thirty participants. I am looking forward to educating a new group of students this academic year.
Whether you are a student or an experienced professional, we encourage you to take advantage of our educational services. Our website includes a schedule of upcoming events and links to technical papers.