Newcomer that lacks ancestry

The Engineering of Chemical Reactions
January 29, 1999

This book is aimed at students of chemical engineering. According to the author, it represents an evolution from the classic text by Octave Levenspiel. However, the latter book has recently appeared, much revised, in a third edition, and so Lanny Schmidt's new book has serious competition.

The book is organised into two sections: fundamentals and applications. The first section covers fairly obvious and essential material in seven chapters. The final five chapters cover the application of the fundamentals to the design of a variety of reactor types for a range of applications but, like Levenspiel's book, this is not a design manual.

The strengths are that the book is written with students and others new to the subject as its primary readership. Inevitably, this means that it is not a good quick reference guide and does not attempt to present the state of the art.

Sadly, there is no citation of source literature and no bibliography of further reading at the end of each topic, which means that students will both miss out on a historical perspective on the subject and be left without help as to where to seek more advanced knowledge. The list of books given at the end of chapter one is useful as a librarian's checklist, but gives no guidance on which book covers which topic to what depth.

The notation is reasonably clear, but the units are a terrible mixture of industry-specific, imperial and SI units. This cannot be defended in an introductory text. In the United States, students may be used to these mixed units, but in the United Kingdom it is a dying skill. There is also some use of vector calculus notation, which again is a pity because it is not essential and will put off some students. Similarly, the notation list does not give the dimensions of the symbols listed.

Diagrams and equations are reasonably frequent and are laid out acceptably, except that some of the equations are developed with quite large algebraic jumps between adjacent lines, and the lines are quite close together.

There are worked examples within each topic and 351 problems, in total, at the end of the chapters. I would be delighted to see a companion volume of solutions published in due course.

In summary, this is a useful new textbook, which may be of considerable help to students who have tried the alternatives without being satisfied. However, I doubt if I will adopt it as my primary recommendation to my students, although I will be asking the university library to buy some copies and I expect they will be consulted and found useful.

Norman Kirkby is senior lecturer in chemical and process engineering, University of Surrey.

The Engineering of Chemical Reactions

Author - Lanny D. Schmidt
ISBN - 0 19 510588 5
Publisher - Oxford University Press
Price - £25.95
Pages - 536

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