StatCounter - Free Web Tracker and Counter

Principles of Chemical Separations with Environmental Applications (Cambridge Series in Chemical Engineering)

Richard D. Noble, Patricia A. Terry

This is an American textbook. It tells you what it’s going to tell you, it tells you, it tells you what it told you, it tests you. It quotes Benjamin Franklin, William Goldwyn, and the Rolling Stones at the beginning of its chapters. Despite being published in the UK, it is written in an American style, with American examples, in American English, by two American academics. The only British things are some of the units used, but unfortunately the British don’t much use “British” units any more.

For those familiar with large print, low information density American undergraduate textbooks, it is surprisingly rigorous, intelligent, and readable. I’m not sure however that it is a book of much use to practicing Chemical Engineers, despite being in the “Cambridge Series in Chemical Engineering”. It sets out to “bring up to speed” “chemists, civil engineers and others with little or no previous experience in the design or analysis of these processes” before any discussion of a specific process. As a result of this resolve, the vast majority of what it has to say will be familiar to any Chemical Engineer from their undergraduate syllabus. It is therefore quite similar in content to one of those “Chemical Engineering for non-Chemical Engineers” courses, within the constraints of a theme of separation technology with environmental implications.

It is generally the case that the nature of environmental issues of not producing a saleable product leads to only the cheapest separation technologies ever being considered. Mainly as a result of this, fitting many separation technologies into the environmental theme can be a bit of a stretch. The section on Distillation, a technology very important almost everywhere except the environmental sector, is the most obvious example of this.

The general approach of the book is to proceed from the chemical or physical basis of a separation technology, through to evaluation for design and analysis. The approach taken differentiates between processes on the basis of whether the separating principle is mass or energy based.

The book manages to cover the relevant basics of Chemical Engineering, such as the concepts of unit operations, mass balance, equilibrium and rate based processes, dimensionless groups, mass and energy transfer and so on. It attempts to show how the various processes share common analytical features, without going into this to the extent that a full Chemical Engineering course would. It generally does this more with words that equations, and most of the mathematical content given is unlikely to prove too taxing to anyone with a science or engineering background, and an A-level in maths.

Worked examples illustrate the calculations given, and are mostly easy enough to follow. However, in the appendices it features a rather abstruse procedure for Pulse Analysis using Laplace Transforms that seems completely out of place with the rest of the book. I doubt this appendix will make much sense to “chemists, civil engineers and others”, and have remain unconvinced that it has practical application in the design of environmental separations.

The book may be of some use to undergraduate Chemical Engineers, as it is certainly suited to its stated purpose of being used as a study guide. It is likely to be of much more use to non-Chemical Engineers seeking to understand the design process, or to students on Environmental Engineering courses. The information seems to be accurate, the references reasonably recent, the style quite readable albeit for no more than a chapter at a time.

In summary, the book seems fairly well suited to the audience it attempts to address, and is an apparently competent textbook. It does not seem however to be a book addressed to qualified Chemical Engineers.