The Department of Chemical Engineering has substantially expanded its laboratory capabilities with the launch of a cutting-edge remote-control system that enables students and faculty to run laboratory experiments remotely via the Internet. Over the past three years, Department Chair Larry Jang designed and constructed this system, which consists of an extensive plumbing and wiring network that is integrated with the lab’s LabVIEW software infrastructure.
Jang designed the control algorithms for the lab’s nine major unit operations using LabVIEW software. “The system is comprised of four data acquisition chassis, each of which has modules for temperature measurement, analog input, and other essential control functions,” says Jang. The system also enables laboratory managers to remotely monitor experiments being conducted on the system, making it a highly valuable management-training tool as well. Professor Roger Lo and lab technician Minh Tran assisted with the construction of the new system.
With the completion of this infrastructure, students can run entire experiments from remote computers that don’t have the control algorithm loaded. “Our students are already using this system extensively in conjunction with their chemical engineering and chemical process control lab work, and they’re obtaining essential hands-on experience with a cutting-edge automated measurement and control system,” says Hamid Rahai, Associate Dean for Research in the College of Engineering.