The focus of chemical engineering has shifted over the past three decades from macroscopic processes to include advanced materials, environmental protection, biomedical engineering, and microelectronics. This change in focus requires significant renovation for Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics, a required course in standard undergraduate chemical engineering curricula. At present, the thermodynamics courses mainly cover introductory materials and background followed by standard applications for classical chemical industries. While these topics remain useful, they do not reflect important developments in applied chemical thermodynamics since (about) 1975. Currently available textbooks are very good but, while they address important aspects of classical engineering, they do not give adequate attention to application of new thermodynamics, i.e., thermodynamic developments of the last 30 (or so) years. The objective of this work is to contribute toward bringing undergraduate and graduate education in Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics into the twenty-first century. Toward that end, chemical engineering educators need comprehensive descriptions of "new" thermodynamics illustrated with specific examples of applications suitable for undergraduates and beginning graduates. This project will create educational materials (a new textbook with interactive software and classroom problems) that introduce modern topics in applied statistical thermodynamics and molecular simulations. This project was initiated about eight years ago with a two-year award from NSF. The PI and co-PI have prepared a draft for most chapters of the new text, and this award will allow for completion.
Intellectual Merit: The contemplated textbook supplements, modernizes, and updates Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics courses by showing a variety of realistic examples for emerging areas of chemical engineering. It covers only "modern" thermodynamics, that is, chemical engineering applications of statistical mechanics including molecular simulations. The new text will be distinguished from similar books in physics or chemistry by emphasizing the engineering relevance and the physical (as opposed to mathematical) basis of statistical thermodynamics. Special attention is given to "high-tech" applications of complex systems, including colloids, polymer solutions or blends, thin films, surfactants, and bio-macromolecules. To complement the textbook, free-to-access websites will be developed to provide mathematical details of statistical-mechanical theories and computer programs for molecular simulations.
Broader Impact: In the US, about 4000 undergraduate students per year take one or two courses in Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics. At least one course in Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics is required for the BS degree. Introduction of the basic principles of statistical thermodynamics and molecular simulations in undergraduate thermodynamics classes will benefit not only those students who are interested in molecular modeling but also those who plan to work on development and production of advanced materials or those who plan a career in biotechnology or environmental engineering. By creating learning materials and effective teaching and assessing strategies, this work will provide innovative solutions to some of the most challenging problems in undergraduate education in chemical engineering.