September 7, 2012
Renovations to chemical engineering laboratories bring new opportunities to students
To celebrate the completion of its newly renovated laboratories, the department of chemical engineering at Kansas State University will have an open house from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15.
The laboratories, on the second floor of Durland Hall, were updated for safety and to enable modern chemical engineering research. The labs were part of the original Durland Hall when it was completed in 1976. With changes in safety standards and advancements in engineering research, the facilities were not adequate for current and future activities. Now the facilities allow for specialized research that is rarely done in university settings, said James Edgar, professor of chemical engineering and department head.
"The renovated laboratories were designed to encourage greater collaboration between different faculty and their student research groups," Edgar said. "The improved facilities and the greater ability to collaborate will make the department more competitive when applying for research grants."
Research projects to be performed at the labs will involve renewable energy, catalysis, semiconductors, transport phenomena and bioseparations.
At the open house, university President Kirk Schulz and Edgar will both say a few words about the renovation project. The labs will be open for faculty, students, alumni and the general public to tour and view. Visitors will also have a chance to talk with chemical engineering faculty and graduate students about their research.
The renovations involved nine laboratories and 10 student offices that were combined to create nine new laboratories. This created much more spacious laboratories that now contain 14 fume hoods and a new dedicated air-conditioning system. The new system will alleviate chronic problems in maintaining an appropriate temperature and humidity level. Also installed onto the roof of Durland Hall was a much more energy efficient and quieter exhaust system.
The renovations cost $2.4 million and were done with a $1.6 million grant from the National Science Foundation, made under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, and $800,000 from the university, corporate and individual donors.
Edgar said the new labs provide a safer environment for performing experiments and the ability to train students using the latest equipment and the best modern chemical engineering practices. He also said the renovations will help attract the best and most talented faculty and students to work and study at the university.
"All in all, this facility will help to achieve the goals articulated by the K-State 2025 visionary plan," Edgar said.