Engineers pulling pranks and pints.

We might have a reputation when we’re all grown up of being a dry bunch. But you remember how much fun you had (at least some of the time) as an engineering student!

Consider these hilariously ingenious pranks. They include students hanging a suspending a Volkswagen Beetle from Vancouver’s best-known bridge back in 2010 in time for the Olympics. Or MIT students turning a campus building into a giant tetris board:

Image source:
Image source:

I remembered that kind of light-hearted enthusiasm among engineers when I read this recent infographic from Chemical & Engineering News about the Chemistry of Guinness.

Image credit:  Sami Keinänen / Foter / CC BY-SA
Image credit: Sami Keinänen / Foter / CC BY-SA

Now, I love Guinness. But I also admire the brewer for knowing its process so well. If Guinness has a problem with bubbles, they know where to look.

If you have a solid-liquid filtration problem, do you know where to look?

In my handbook, I talk about a specialty chemical application in which testing showed continuous rotary pressure filter would achieve the requirement for filtration, cake washing and drying.  Yet, after installation and startup, the filtration flux rates were completely different and the continuous process steps could not be realized. The engineers examined all of the process parameters, reviewed all data and reaction chemistry, and after several months determined the zeta potential (ionic charge) of the slurry had changed due to the process flow. Agglomeration was occurring in the filtration system within the filter itself.  A small change to the pH finally corrected the process problems while not impacting the reaction chemistry.

Whether pulling a pint or a prank, or testing a process, testing all the angles makes a difference. Now, if we could only get ratings for the systems we use along the lines of the ones employed for beers!