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Chemical Process Equipment, Third Edition: Selection and Design

Authors: James R. Couper, W. Roy Penney, James R. Fair Hardcover: 864 pages Butterworth-Heinemann ISBN 012396959X

The basic premises of this book are very sound, betraying the extensive input of practicing engineers - it emphasises the fact that engineering is not mere applied science or technology, but is a discipline with its own epistemology.

The book makes extensive use of rules of thumb and shortcut methods of design, and design by analogy, just as professional process designers do. It references the codes, standards and recommended practices which are used by practitioners to constrain design to maximise the probability of safe, robust, and cost-effective designs. It is in short an excellent introduction to professional process engineering design practice at the unit operation level.  

As well as providing an excellent introduction to professional design methodology, it is full of summaries of hard-to-find design data, comparisons of operational envelopes of alternative technologies, collations of manufacturer’s technical data, and so on. It has steam tables, standard gauges of sheets, plates and wires, standard datasheets. In short, it looks to be as useful a one-book library as Perry’s Handbook for students and practitioners alike.

It makes no claim to be a textbook, though it does say in the introduction that it could be used for teaching purposes. It’s a great professional’s reference book, and would I recommend it unreservedly for professional use. As a textbook I would have one reservation - it is a pity for UK lecturers that it uses exclusively US standards and US symbology, and to a lesser extent the “British” units which they still use in the US.

I find that many of my students get confused by multiple standards, (even if I emphasise the differences) and present me with designs in which these standards are mixed in ways which can obscure meaning.