LSU Engineering Updating Lab Systems With Help From Emerson
July 25, 2022
BATON ROUGE, LA – When the LSU College of Engineering officially opened the newly renovated and expanded Patrick F. Taylor Hall in 2018, among the many features touted were new state-of-the-art research facilities.
The college continues to deliver on that promise with an upcoming upgrade of the systems used in the LSU Cain Department of Chemical Engineering Dow Unit Operations Laboratory that will feature an array of advanced automation technologies from Emerson, a global software and engineering leader.
This upgrade will include Emerson’s DeltaV™ automation and control software and its AMS Device Manager. As part of the update, the lab also will be outfitted with the company’s Rosemount™ wireless instrument package—as well as new Micro Motion Coriolis meters and viscometers—that will extend its measurement capabilities. Finally, an enclosure with clear panels fabricated by ISC Constructors LLC will house the hardware that controls the systems and be placed in a central location in the lab, allowing for a view of the technology from outside. John H. Carter Company/Controlworx LLC will manage the life cycle care of the system.
“Our Unit Ops Lab is one of the best of its kind,” said John Flake, professor and chair of the chemical engineering at LSU. “It is used for teaching chemical engineering students how to run reactions and separation processes at scale. The Emerson upgrades will provide the same sort of hardware and software that is commonly used in industry to manufacture chemicals, biochemicals, fuels, pharmaceuticals, semiconductors, polymers, and dozens of other products.
“We’ve been using industry-standard tools like programmable logic controllers, automatic control valves, and distributed control systems for more than 30 years now. In recent years, process control technology has improved significantly. For example, engineers can now monitor process equipment from a smart phone app and wireless sensors can detect pump problems well before a failure. It is important for our students to gain this sort of experience using the best tools available.”
Emerson’s DeltaV distributed control system is an easy-to-use automation system that simplifies operational complexity and lowers project risk. It adapts to meet the user’s needs, and its integration extends to advanced control, change management, engineering tools, diagnostics, and more. One of its creators is Duncan Schleiss, vice president of business development at Emerson and a 1983 master’s of chemical engineering graduate from LSU. He has worked at Emerson for more than 30 years and said he’s pleased to be working again with his alma mater on the project.
“[Emerson is] excited to expose students to modern control and safety systems, and of course, to help LSU conduct research that will result in innovations in the industries we serve,” Schleiss said. “Many of us are LSU alumni and have a strong affiliation with LSU.”
Work on the software upgrades is expected to conclude this summer, with the hardware upgrades being finished next year. Once everything is completed, Flake believes it will be another selling point for students that sets LSU’s chemical engineering program apart from others.
“Most undergraduate chemical engineering programs are very similar,” he said. “We all require about the same credit hours to earn a degree. Most of the coursework and textbooks are also very similar. Some key differences…are the teachers and the facilities. I think our department is special in this regard. Several members of our faculty are industry experts with more than 30 years of experience, each. Likewise, our facilities are world-class. It is easy to see how our chemical engineering students transition into practicing chemical engineers.”
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Contact: Joshua Duplechain
Director of Communications