A Process Dynamics And Control Experiment for the Undergraduate Laboratory


  • Jordan L. Spencer Columbia University


This paper describes a process control experiment. The apparatus includes a three-vessel glass flow system with a variable flow configuration, means for feeding dye solution controlled by a stepper-motor driven valve, and a flow spectrophotometer. Students use impulse response data and nonlinear regression to estimate three parameters of a model of the system, study the behavior of the system under PID control, observe both stable and unstable behavior, and test Ziegler-Nichols controller tuning methods.

Author Biography

Jordan L. Spencer, Columbia University

Jordan L. Spencer is an emeritus professor of chemical engineering at Columbia University. He received his B.S. in 1953 and his Ph.D. in 1961, both from the University of Pennsylvania and both in chemical engineering. His research and teaching interests involve control and optimal control, and the development of chemical engineering teaching experiments, including Web-operable experiments.