Mizzou chemical engineering students complete AIChE design challenge for senior capstone project

May 21, 2024

From left, Anna Kanllakan, Lily Mix, Evan Dubbert and Julia Boeyink 

The Project

Each semester, chemical engineering students complete the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) Student Design Competition. The 2024 competition challenged students to design a power-to-gas facility.

“A power-to-gas facility is a lot like a battery,” Anna Kanllakan said. “Excess energy is taken from solar or wind farms and then is converted to hydrogen using a process called electrolysis. Hydrogen then reacts with carbon dioxide to form methane. We had to also design a storage system for the methane we produced.”

The teams had 60 days to come up with a solution to the design problem.

“One of our main focuses during this design project was safety,” Kanllakan said.

The Process

In completing the design challenge, students drew upon knowledge from classes taken freshman through senior year. They used ASPEN, a simulation software used by chemical engineers in industry, to model chemical processes.

“We also learned how to analyze the economic feasibility of a design and determine whether or not our design would be profitable,” Julia Boeyink said. “But one of the most important things we learned was how to make sure a process was safe. We made sure to implement many safety features in our design, including temperature control loops and pressure relief values on reactors, to prevent accidents from occurring.”

While the team did not build their planned facility, they summarized their work and results in a formal report.

The Outcome

The team completed the AIChE design challenge within 60 days and their resulting system had numerous proposed benefits.

“Our system was very effective, and in a lot of cases, more economical than some other energy storage systems, like batteries,” Evan Dubbert said. “This comes with the added benefit of taking CO2 out of the environment, as we sourced our CO2 from other industrial sources. Removing this CO2 from the environment had a strong positive impact.”

Dubbert says they also sourced hydrogen from renewable sources. Increased economic efficiency also came from cost-saving features and optimizations in the design. Thinking about these considerations while completing this project was great practice for students ahead of graduation.

“I am going into water system design for my career, so this project has been a great experience in working on a long-term design project,” Lilly Mix said. “Most projects you do in school are a week or a month long, but this was a months-long process, so getting to work on the same thing for a long time and perfecting it has been really cool.”

Learn more about chemical engineering at Mizzou!

Read about other capstone projects here.