Using Visualization and Computation in the Analysis of Separation Processes


  • Yong Lak Joo Cornell University
  • Devashish Choudhary Cornell University


For decades, every chemical engineer has been asked to have a background in separations. The required separations course can, however, be uninspiring and superficial because understanding many separation processes involves conventional graphical methods and commercial process simulators. We utilize simple, user-friendly mathematical software, MATLAB, for both visualization and numerical computation, which can make conventional approaches more enjoyable and effective, and also provide better understanding of more complex problems in the junior-level separations course at Cornell. We have introduced in-class visualization of the graphical methods in which the effect of design parameters on distillation such as the reflux ratio and stage efficiency can be animated interactively. We have also exploited user-friendly routines of MATLAB to solve systems of nonlinear equations directly and perform numerical time integration in multicomponent distillation and thermal swing adsorption, respectively. By spending less time on the details of solving problems graphically and by trial-and-error, we were able to spend more time discussing the conceptual and quantitative description of processes and incorporate recent trends and design aspects in the separations course.

Author Biographies

Yong Lak Joo, Cornell University

Yong Lak Joo has been an assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at Cornell University since 2001 . He received his B.S. in chemical engineering from Seoul National University in Korea, and his M.S. and Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Stanford University. His research interests are in the area of non-Newtonian fluid mechanics and advanced materials processing, with particular emphasis on molecular modeling and complex flow simulation of polymeric liquids.

Devashish Choudhary, Cornell University

Devashish Choudhary was born in New Delhi, India. He majored in chemical engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay. In 2004, he received his Ph.D. from the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Cornell University. During his Ph.D., he worked on order-property relationships in semiconducting materials. Currently, he works at Intel Corp.