Senior Design Projects

Inventing the world of tomorrow

Chemical engineering design typically involves process design and product design, from large chemical plants to small molecules. The senior design projects for this program consist of both a computer-aided plant design project and a laboratory-based research project, in which fundamental principles are integrated and applied. Students in their senior year will work with faculty advisors or with industry sponsors, who will guide them throughout the projects. At the end of the program, students will display their projects at the Stevens Annual Senior Design Expo, which is a showcase of undergraduate design activities for the Stevens community, invited guests, and sponsors.

Selected Projects

  • Full-Scale Ethanol Plant Design
    An ethanol plant may include raw material pretreatment, biocatalysts preparation, saccharification, concentration, sterilization, fermentation, ethanol purification and dehydration, CO2 recovery, storage, and combined heat and power generation sections. The process involves solid, liquid, and gas handling in various unit operations for chemical and physical changes. Students first develop multiple conceptual design scenarios using conventional and new process technologies, then consolidate the designs after considering process economics and environmental impact.
  • Natural Gas Conversion to Liquid Fuels and Chemicals
    Methane conversion into valuable aromatic products represents a highly desirable route for conversion of natural gas, which consists mostly of methane, into transportation fuels and chemical feedstocks. The nature of active sites in catalysts, such as molybdenum supported on ZSM-5 zeolite, however, is not well understood. The project objective is to identify the structure of active sites and determine reaction kinetics.Nanoparticles
  • Hydrodeoxygenation of 4-Propyl Guaiacol in a Microreactor
    Hydrodeoxygenation (HDO) of pyrolysis oil is one of the methos for upgrading pyrolysis oil into a high energy density fuel. The compound 4-propyl Guaiacol (4PG) was selected to model the mono- and dimethoxy- substituted phenolic compounds of the lignin derived components of pyrolysis oil. The HDO of 4PG was performed in a microreactor at varying temperatures to observe the temperature effect on the hydrogen consumption, 4PG conversion, and product formation.
  • Solar Hydrogen
    Hydrogen fuel for fuel cell vehicles can be produced by using solar electric energy from photovoltaic (PV) cells to power electrolysis of water without emitting carbon dioxide or requiring fossil fuel. Hydrogen, as an energy carrier, is anticipated to join photovoltaic electricity as the foundation of sustainable energy system. Research was conducted to demonstrate the efficiency and feasibility of an integrated PV-Electrolyzer for solar water-splitting under alkaline conditions.
  • Biolectrodes
    Future potential for wide scale bioenergy sources leads to large production of biochar, a byproduct of the pyrolysis process used to produce biofuels. Surface area and electrical conductivity of the biochar make it a good candidate for supercapacitor electrodes. A prototype supercapacitor was designed and fabricated, the capacitance was tested, and the power and energy densities were calculated.

Design Experience

The Stevens Engineering curriculum is unique in its structure and what it offers to the student. It provides students with experiential learning every semester in the form of the Stevens Design Spine. Because we believe that design is what differentiates engineering from other technical disciplines, we believe it is critical that design play a central role in the learning process. Through the Design Spine, each semester students get the opportunity to apply what they are learning in their more traditional engineering courses within the context of engineering design. This ensures that they are able to understand and appreciate the relevance of what they are learning and how it is applied to solve real world problems on a continuous basis.

In addition to reinforcing the foundational knowledge gained in the classroom, the robust background provided by the Design Spine encourages and develops creativity and innovation in the Stevens engineer. By their senior year students have already put their studies into practice while learning the unique languages of teammates across various disciplines and solving engineering problems of increasing complexity and significance. Because of the Design Spine, Senior Design at Stevens is not senior design in a traditional sense—it is a capstone activity where students are given an opportunity to tackle a significant and challenging real-world problem while applying the knowledge that they have gained through their undergraduate studies. When they commence their Senior Design projects, they choose substantive work that results in a product that benefits society. By the time they graduate, they are prepared to confidently address real-world engineering challenges.

Chemical engineering design experience starts in Term 6 (Chemical Engineering Design VI – ChE 322). In this course students learn modern systematic design strategies for steady state chemical processing systems and at the same time gain a functional facility with a process simulator (ASPEN) for design, analysis, and economic evaluation.

Chemical Engineering Design VI is the stepping stone for Chemical Engineering Design VII (ChE 423) in Term 7 which is commonly referred to in chemical engineering education as the Capstone Design focusing on the design, analysis and economic evaluation of a plant for the manufacture of an industrial chemical product. For chemical engineers ABET criteria require “an ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs within realistic constraints such as economic, environmental, social, political, ethical, health and safety, manufacturability, and sustainability” and AIChE criteria include sufficient knowledge “. . . to design, analyze, and control physical, chemical, and biological processes . . .”

Capstone Design projects are typically open ended with the principle objective of developing creative, critical and integrative thinking skills while emphasizing integrating chemical engineering fundamentals using computer simulation programs for process calculations and economic evaluation.

Chemical Engineering Design VIII (ChE 424) focuses on an experimental project, typically carried out in the research laboratory of a CEMS faculty. Design considerations are complemented by developing hands on skills and research methodologies. Some projects involve development of new experiments to be utilized in the chemical engineering laboratory. The projects are supported by departmental funds, research staff of the CEMS faculty and on occasions from an outside sponsor.


empowering success

Dr. Keith Sheppard
Associate Dean,
Design Expo Coordinator


Dr. Ronald Besser
Undergraduate Program Director,
Chemical Engineering