Texas Tech installs unique distillation tower for Engineering student training

Texas Tech installs unique distillation tower for Engineering student training
Midland Energy company donates funds for new Texas Tech Distillation tower (Source: John Smith)

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - A donation to Texas Tech from a Midland energy company has brought technology to the campus that can be found at few universities across the country.

The industrial scale Morrow Energy pilot distillation plant is comprised of two 40-foot towers with separate heating and cooling elements that simulate real situations for engineering students to experiment.

The installation took place on Friday, Dec. 14, south of the Drive of Champions, near the Chemical Engineering building. The tower mimics parts of a refinery to give Engineering students the chance for hands-on training in a real world experience.

Mark Vaughn, an associate professor of chemical engineering and director of undergraduate studies had this to say about the new edition: “One of the things we’ve always suffered from is that our students don’t really get to see process equipment, so they don’t really even know what things look like. In the classroom, we represent these things with boxes. Now we have a piece of equipment we can bring students out and show them.”

Morrow Energy of Midland is run by David, Paul and Luke Morrow, all graduates of Texas Tech. Their company donated $1.3 Million to Texas Tech for the project, making the school one of the only universities in the country with a pilot plant of this complexity. The tower also features a large double-T piping system that can be isolated to study important aspects like fluid flow and pump curves.

Paul Rogers is a project manager for Morrow Energy and also a graduate of Texas Tech’s Chemical Engineering school. He said the plant was intentionally designed to give students exposure to unique challenges in their field.

“It’s got all the bells and whistles: a bunch of different types of pumps, different types of heat exchangers, different types of industrial equipment people might use in industry, so we really decked it out,” Rogers said. “Wherever we could fit a transmitter or an instrument or a gauge, we put it on there so you can get all kinds of readings and you can learn more.”

The plant is expected to be operational in mid-January.

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