EWEEK 2021: CHEMICAL ENGINEERING

Date of the Problem
February 26, 2021
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Kelly Moran Spotlight

Solve Friday's Problem

Chemical engineers design and develop chemical manufacturing processes, and they do this in many different fields. For example, they are vital in producing various types of fuel, pesticides, plastic and rubber products, foods...even some electronics! Right now, chemical engineers are instrumental in the production of COVID-19 vaccines around the world.

Developing a vaccine requires many steps; some vary by specific vaccine, but certain steps must always take place. For example, towards the end of the vaccine manufacturing cycle, chemical engineers must use a filtration system to remove certain buffers from their solution. A buffer is a solution added to help maintain pH stability throughout the production of a medicine, but that is not intended to be in the final product.

5.1) Jorge, a chemical engineer, initially puts 700 liters of solution into the filtration system. During filtration, 12 liters do not get through the filter, 0.5 liter gets caught in the piping and 0.8 liter never makes it out of the initial container. By what percent does the volume of solution decrease during the filtration process? Express your answer to the nearest whole percent.

5.2) Until the solution leaves the filter, it flows through the system at a rate of 6 inches per second. After leaving the filter, the solution flows at a rate of 9 inches per second. How many seconds will it take the solution to travel from START to FINISH in the filtration system shown below?

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Filtration System

5.3) After filtration, a solution may need to be adjusted to ensure it has the right amount of active ingredient—the component of a medicine responsible for its effects. Jorge’s team needs the filtered solution to be made up of 2% active ingredient. If, after filtration, the solution is made up of 5% active ingredient, how many milliliters of inactive ingredients must the engineers combine with the 5% solution to create a 5-milliliter vial of 2% solution?

5.4) A pharmaceutical company must produce 1,500,000 vials of vaccine per day, and a single manufacturing site produces 500 vials per day. If approximately 1 in 20 vials fails and cannot be used, what is the minimum number of manufacturing sites that can be expected to produce the required number of vials daily? Express your answer to the nearest whole number.

DISCLAIMER: MATHCOUNTS DOES NOT HAVE ACCESS TO SPECIFIC INFORMATION ON THE COVID-19 VACCINES CURRENTLY IN PRODUCTION. THESE PROBLEMS WERE WRITTEN USING HYPOTHETICAL SCENARIOS AND MADE-UP MEASUREMENTS AND INGREDIENTS TO DEMONSTRATE WHAT CHEMICAL ENGINEERS WORKING IN VACCINE DEVELOPMENT DO. THESE INGREDIENTS AND MEASUREMENTS ARE NOT THOSE USED IN THE COVID-19 VACCINES CURRENTLY IN PRODUCTION, OR ANY OTHER VACCINES.

 

CCSS (Common Core State Standard)
Difficulty