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Lowe Bequest Funds Lab Innovations

Lowe Bequest Funds Lab Innovations

A student works at the new fuel cell testing station in ChBE's Unit Operations Laboratory, which has recently benefited from an extensive renovation and alumni bequests.
A student works at the new fuel cell testing station in ChBE's Unit Operations Laboratory, which has recently benefited from an extensive renovation and alumni bequests.

The Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering's (ChBE) Unit Operations Lab, an integral part of every chemical and biomolecular engineering major's undergraduate education, will receive continued upgrades and new equipment thanks to a $30,000 bequest from the estate of alumnus James Blakeley Lowe (B.S. '63). The gift benefits the university’s Great Expectations campaign.

Part of Lowe's gift will be merged with a portion of the recent bequest from Virginia Murray to create the James Blakeley Lowe and Virginia Murray Endowment for Undergraduate Laboratories, the income of which will be used for annual improvements to ChBE’s undergraduate chemical, biochemical and computer laboratory facilities.

Chemical Engineering Laboratory (ENCH 437), the primary course taught in the Unit Operations Lab, gives senior chemical and biomolecular engineering majors experience with laboratory and pilot plant apparatus, preparing them to use and manage the facilities they will encounter in the field. Its experiments complement the bench-scale lab work students perform earlier in the curriculum. Students study reactors and bioreactors, separations (such as distillation), heat transfer (heat exchangers), energy conversion (fuel cells) and fluid flow (pumps and valves).

ChBE assistant professor Chunsheng Wang, who currently manages the lab and teaches the course, has already seen students benefit from the enhancements. "We are now able to conduct fuel cell experiments," he explains. "Students are using a new test station to measure the performance of fuel cells they have constructed under controlled conditions such flow, temperature, humidity and pressure."

"The availability of this equipment provides unique education and training opportunities," he adds. "We are the only program in the state to have fuel cell experiments available to undergraduates. Some students in my Fall 2008 course even conducted an experiment which we usually expect only graduate students to do after one or two years training. It was really amazing.”

The Lowe gift comes on the heels of the Clark School’s recent $100,000 renovation of the Unit Operations Lab, which included the installation of new floors and casework, and a revised floor plan to make more efficient use of its space.

As a result, the lab can now also be used by undergraduates from the Fischell Department of Bioengineering. "The improvements to the space and the equipment translate into better learning experiences in biochemical and biomedical engineering for students in both departments," says ChBE professor and Chair F. Joseph Schork.

Related Story:

"Murray Bequest Supports ChBE" »

Learn How You Can Help:

Alumni and friends interested in contributing to the James Blakeley Lowe and Virginia Murray Endowment for Undergraduate Laboratories are invited to contact ChBE professor and Chair F. Joseph Schork.

To learn more about the University's Great Expectations campaign and how you can make a difference in the Clark School’s progress, please contact Leslie Borak.

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January 28, 2009


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"The availability of this equipment provides unique education and training opportunities. We are the only program in the state to have fuel cell experiments available to undergraduates."

ChBE assistant professor Chunsheng Wang



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