Category Archives: Resources

Open-source Reactor Lab

We recently released the desktop Reactor Lab software as an open-source project on GitHub. View our open-source projects at https://github.com/RichardHerz. Contact us if you are interested in using this version or learning more about the structure and the code. The Lab is constructed with the open-source, Community Edition of LiveCode, which can be obtained at https://livecode.org.

Progress on web apps

We are making progress in learning HTML5 technologies – Javascript and CSS – to make interactive web apps. Web app experiment 1, in the Resources section of this site, has been updated to feedback control of water level in a tank. We used the desktop app MACAW to graphically layout the main components of the web page and generate the HTML and CSS files.  Then we did some editing of the files generated by MACAW and added a link to our Javascript file.

We wrote the Javascript code ourselves. The Javascript code makes the web page interactive by getting user input, doing the computations, then updating the display. One thing we have discovered is that Javascript runs very fast in today’s browsers. Many years ago we compared the speed of computation of Javascript to some other languages and found it very slow. That situation has changed dramatically.

We are pretty happy with MACAW. It definitely speeds up the process of learning CSS and laying out a web page.  One very nice thing is that it generates standalone HTML and CSS files – you do NOT have to link your site to a proprietary library.

Livecode app on the web

We have added web app experiment 2 to the Resources, Web App Experiments page. This is a LiveCode 8 stack deployed in a web page. LiveCode 8 uses the open-source software Emscripten to compile the LiveCode engine to Javascript, which can then run LiveCode apps in a web page.

The advantage of this approach is that we can develop new apps quickly using LiveCode, which is a rapid app development tool.

One drawback is that a large Javascript file must be downloaded before a LiveCode web app can run. Once downloaded in a browser session, however, multiple stacks can be run without having to download the large file again.

This is very new technology for LiveCode and we expect much improvement in the near future. Get the free, open-source “Community” edition of LiveCode here (link).

Web app experiments

Web app experiments have been added to the Resources page. These are experiments using HTML5 and Javascript to do interactive simulations in a web page. We are just getting started with these experiments.

Reactor Lab is a desktop app with Internet connectivity. Is that the best way to do things, or should we move to web apps?

A nice set of web apps has been written by Professor Anthony Butterfield at the University of Utah. Anthony did his MS in Chemical Engineering at UCSD with our faculty. Here is a LINK to his web site with web apps.

Chemical Reaction Engineering Notes posted

See the RESOURCES tab above. Select the section “CRE Notes.” On that page there is a link to my Chemical Reaction Engineering (CRE) Notes.

The organization of these notes differs from most textbooks on CRE. These notes consider only Batch and Semi-Batch reactors at the start. Only after all the major topics (e.g., stoichiometry, change in gas density, thermal effects) are covered do they proceed to PFRs and CSTRs.

Why this organization? Some students told me that they got confused when they encountered a new topic (e.g., thermal effects) and lectures switched back and forth between the different types of reactors. I can understand their concern. I now think it is better to stick to Batch reactors until students learn them very well before switching to other reactors.