@Debanjani Das • 30 Sep, 2012
hie.....i am kinda stuck!!! my guide wants me to choose topics from the list of ideas which have been done by my senior!!! help me out!!! i need some ideas related to mass tranfer operations!!!
@Kaustubh Katdare • 30 Sep, 2012 Are you looking for project ideas in chemical engineering or some other engineering domain? Would you like to present us with a few ideas that you've considered so that we can offer you similar suggestions?
@Debanjani Das • 30 Sep, 2012 i have thought about multiple effect of evaporation, design of CRYSTALLIZER, extraction of silica from burnt paddy husk!!! my partners want something related 2 mass transfer operation. as we are in 3rd yr something feasible is required which can be handled with ease.
@Kaustubh Katdare • 30 Sep, 2012 • 1 like I'm tempted to tag bioramani to offer you a few ideas. He's an all-rounder here who's our own Wikipedia-cum-Google 😉
@Debanjani Das • 30 Sep, 2012 i would be glad to get all the help you guys can offer!!! thanks a lot!!!
@Debanjani Das • 30 Sep, 2012 i would also like to know what kind of project can i develop related to petroleum or natural gas??
@Ramani Aswath • 30 Sep, 2012 • 1 like With apologies to K, I must confess that I did work to produce amorphous silica from rice husk very long back, even before my Chemical Engineering days.
We used to plant some rice in my grand father's farm. Rice husk was a usual by product. There used to be a tooth powder from Nanjangud, Karnataka (Still around) based on the silica from Rice Husk Ash (RCA). My grand father wanted to make a tooth powder of his own but with superior properties. A key ingredient was amorphous silica from RCA.

If the rice husk is burnt at a low temperature (around 750 C) the resultant silica is amorphous. At high temperatures (>850 C) crystalline silica results. Since the husk has its own volatile matter and carbon no external fuel is needed. Actually rice husk is burnt in boilers to produce process steam. Noequipment at all is needed if the operation is small scale. What we did was to heap the husk in a cone on a stone floor in a wind free location.

Because of the high silica content of the husk its retaining angle (angle of internal friction) is high and the cone can be quite steep without loss of stability. Right at the top of the heap one small burning charcoal is kept.The husk starts smouldering without any open flame. Because the heap is very porous enough air is drawn in from the sides and bottom to sustain this slow burning. A large heap may take a couple of days to burn completely. You can see the glow of the heap in the darkness of the night.

Once the burning is over the ash is collected , stirred up in water, the silica allowed to settle, decant any floating unburnt husk and carbon particles, repeat the process till a colourless mass is obtained. Some silica is lost in the process, which can be optimised for large scale operation. The precipitate is carefully dried in the shade and powdered to break lumps. The resultant powder is filtered through a washed cotton cloth to get fine (20 to 30 micrometer sized) non palpable particles.
As one can see all the chemical engineering operations used here in this literally cottage activity are achieved with negligible formal equipment. The end product was fit for the intended purpose of tooth powder manufacture.

Since our aim then was to make a superior tooth powder this was only the main input. To this my grand father, who was no kind of engineer, added activated carbon and menthol as additives. He proudly brushed his teeth and went about boasting how he bettered Nanjangud tooth powder, the then gold standard. He passed on samples to all friends for trials. All reported no mint freshness what soever.
After some research I found from my chemistry professor that the added menthol was sequestered by the activated carbon rendering it non combatant! The problem with my grand father was that he was a pure entrepreneur and never carried through to the bitter end.
The project was quietly dumped.
To come back to the proposed project, what is the specification of the end product? Is amorphous silica not acceptable? Why introduce crystallization. What is being crystallized?
If you can post more info perhaps some of us shall try to suggest ways.
@Debanjani Das • 30 Sep, 2012 i have actualy kind a hit a dead end......what i was thinking is quite not acceptable. i would like to hear some your suggestion as what would you have done as your mini project????
@Ramani Aswath • 30 Sep, 2012
Debanjani Das
i would like to hear some your suggestion as what would you have done as your mini project????
How about extracting some spice oleoresin? There is a very hot chilli from the forests of Nagaland which has the world's highest capsicin content (>1000000 Skovelin heat units). Since you are interested in mass transfer operations this may be a good project.
Does not your guide interact with you students to decide these things? We used to work very closely with the students at IIT Madras, whenever we gave projects. The idea was not just to evaluate the student but to help the student gain some hands on experience on real life projects.
If this project is acceptable to your guide and is of interest to you, please respond. We can try to fill out some details.
How will this be funded? What will be the scale of the project? How much time do you have. Will Chemical engineering lab facilities for extraction, distillation and evaporation be available to you?
@Debanjani Das • 30 Sep, 2012 well our guides do interact..right now he just told us to gather some ideas!!! i m not sure about the labs because this is our mini project not major project. i will discuss it with my partners and guide and let u know. thank u sir for your wonderfull suggestion.
@Ramani Aswath • 30 Sep, 2012
Debanjani Das
i m not sure about the labs because this is our mini project not major project. i will discuss it with my partners and guide and let u know.
Distillation and evaporation equipment even for a lab scale can be expensive. If the aim of the mini project is just to demonstrate a process without any measurements, it is possible to do this with virtually no equipment. You will get the end product oleoresin to show. You can probably estimate the yield. However, it will not be possible to get hard data on solvent recovery, economics of the project and such information. The entire project can be done for the cost of the solvent plus bought out chilli powder and some incidentals. Probably you can complete in a week.

Do discuss with your partners and come back.
@Kaustubh Katdare • 30 Sep, 2012 Maybe you should bring your partners here so that can have a better discussion 😀
@Debanjani Das • 30 Sep, 2012 well it seems that extraction has been done already and they want to go for smeting in petroleum or natural gas. my partners like me doing al d research wrk. dy do d manual labour 😀
@Debanjani Das • 01 Oct, 2012 what all info can u give me about "parabolic trough"??
@Ramani Aswath • 01 Oct, 2012 Do you mean solar concentrator parabolic trough?
Where is the mass transfer in this? Even a non chemical engineer will know that there is no mass transfer in this. Heat transfer, certainly.
While it is true that extraction is a known process, heat transfer is even older. Does your institute expect students to come up with a totally new process for a mini project?
@Debanjani Das • 01 Oct, 2012 yeah i mean that only...it seems now they donot want to go for mass transfer!!!! actually my guide liked extraction of oleoresin but my partners want something which they could continue for their major project!!!!
@Ramani Aswath • 01 Oct, 2012 I have tried catenary troughs, which are very easy to make using aluminised polyester film that is easily available.
The first link has clickable links at the top that can help you design a trough.

The lower two links are videos.

@Debanjani Das • 01 Oct, 2012 1 of the major prb we are facing is that we stay in tumkur. so sunlight is a problem. generating heat in the month of December will be an problem. as December is the month for our project submission. what can be done about it??
@Ramani Aswath • 01 Oct, 2012 Tumkur is just 13 degree latitude. Tropics. If the sun is shining the radiation will be no different from Bangalore. You will get enough (about 1000 W / sq.mtr) even in December.
You should not confuse ambient temperature with direct sunlight. In the late 1940s we used to get even ground frost in Tumkur in the early mornings.
@Debanjani Das • 01 Oct, 2012 what if its a cloudy day??
@Ramani Aswath • 01 Oct, 2012
Debanjani Das
what if its a cloudy day??
Have a heart.
Who ever heard of a solar project on a sunless day?
Presence of sun light is a non negotiable prerequisite for solar collector functioning. Your team chose that project.
@Debanjani Das • 01 Oct, 2012 that whats worries me.............if we go ahead and in the end fate doesnt favour us!!!! would it be better to go for some other topic!!!

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