Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science in Chemical Engineering - (M.S.)


Chemical Engineering

First Advisor

John W. Axelson

Second Advisor

Jerome J. Salamone

Third Advisor

George C. Keeffe


The study of mass transfer of a solute through a solvent can be greatly facilitated by the use of radioactive tracers.

This experiment was developed to demonstrate that by using radioactive tracers very small quantities of matter that would be very difficult to test chemically, can not only be tested but easily followed without disturbing the apparatus in which the diffusion is taking place.

Oleic Acid tagged with radioactive iodine (I131) was diffused through hexane at constant temperature in a glass column, one inch in diameter and thirty-six inches long.

The diffusion of Oleic Acid was followed by measuring its concentration through its radioactivity at various sections of the column, three inches apart at various intervals.

The results obtained were plotted: concentration at various sections against time. A value of the diffusivity of Oleic Acid in hexane was calculated from data obtained in the early part of the experiment and compared to a theoretical values the experimental diffusivity is 8.93 x 10-6 cm2/sec, the theoretical value is 13.8 x 10-6 cm2/sec. At later stages of the experiment the data did not seem to indicate true diffusion and was probably adversely affected by factors such as eddy currents caused by inadequate temperature control.

Experiments conducted to study diffusivity between two phases from single drops are also reported in the appendix of this report. Oleic Acid tagged with I131 dissolved in a mixture of methanol and glycerol was passed dropwise through a column filled with hexane. The hexane was sampled at various levels and tested for Oleic Acid content through its radioactivity. The technique developed appeared to be satisfactory, but no conclusive results were obtained.



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