Supercritical Extraction Experiment for the Unit Operations Laboratory


  • Ronald G. Gabbard New Jersey Institute of Technology
  • Dana E. Knox New Jersey Institute of Technology


A senior-year unit operations laboratory experiment developed for the extraction of naphthalene with supercritical carbon dioxide.  The experiment consists of extracting solid naphthalene from a sand bed in a fixed bed extractor and determining the mass transfer coefficient for the unit.  The lab was designed to allow the students to develop their own experimental plan with little direct input from the faculty, and the outline provided for primary focus on information needed for safe and proper operation of the equipment.  The experiment allows the student to apply basic thermodynamic principles to such real-world problems as the prediction of unavailable physical properties near or above the critical point.  These predictions are necessary to do calculations related to scale-up and equipment performance on supercritical fluid extraction processes.

Author Biographies

Ronald G. Gabbard, New Jersey Institute of Technology

Ronald G. Gabbard is Process and Product Development Manager for the Styropor Business Group in the Polymers Division of BASF Corporation, where he has been doing polymer related research for the last eleven years. He previously worked as a Process Development Engineer at Maxwell House Coffee, and it was in this capacity that he developed an interest in SCFE technology. He received his BS and MS in Chemical Engineering from New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Dana E. Knox, New Jersey Institute of Technology

Dana E. Knox is Associate Chair for the Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, and Environmental Science Department at New Jersey Institute of Technology, where he has been since 1983. His teaching interests are in graduate and undergraduate thermodynamics and equilibrium stage processes, and his research interests are in fluid phase equilibria and thermodynamics. He received his BS, ME, and PhD degrees in Chemical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.