Burning off lunch and other heated topics (2)

Process Design Principles
November 27, 1998

Process Design Principles is aimed primarily at final-year undergraduate students of chemical engineering but will also be of use to engineers in industry. It covers the early stages of the design of gas and liquid-phase, steady-state processes. The main topics are the design and analysis of the process-flow diagram, including heuristic and systematic methods to select between process alternatives, process optimisation, control-system synthesis and analysis.

There are frequent references to process simulation packages in the text, and there will be several CD-Roms to accompany the book, which were not available for this review. The approach is to integrate hand-calculation procedures with the use of computer packages found in most industrial environments. However, not enough emphasis is placed on the need for students to check meticulously the numbers produced by computer packages.

Chapter four covers an excellent set of heuristic rules for the preliminary design of processes that could be viewed as statements of the blindingly obvious; so obvious that they are rarely seen in print, and almost never used by undergraduates in design projects. Equally valuable and impressive is chapter 12, on control-system configuration, which again covers topics that most students find difficult because what is normally required is a combination of common sense, imagination and experience.

It is a pity that many topics that are central to the design of effective processes are not covered. These include hazard analysis, plant layout and environmental-impact assessment. Batch and semi-batch processes are not covered directly, and emergency shut-down systems are also left out. Solids handling is confined to brief mentions in appendix X.

The detailed design of process units is not really the subject of this book, but there is a chapter on the detailed design of heat exchangers marooned between two chapters on second-law analysis and the chapters on capital and operating cost estimation.

Undergraduates will find this book useful to consult in the library, but not so invaluable that many will buy it. It would be a pity if it were overlooked by industry, especially where young engineers are charged with the design of novel processes.

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

Process Design Principles: Synthesis, Analysis and Evaluation

Author - W. D. Seider, J. D. Seader and D. R. Lewin
ISBN - 0 471 24312 4
Publisher - Wiley
Price - £31.95
Pages - 824

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