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Chemical Process Technology, Second Edition 2013

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Chemical Process Technology, Second Edition 2013

 

Preface

This book is largely the result of courses we have given. Its main purposes are to bring alive the concepts
forming the basis of the Chemical Process Industry and to give a solid background for innovative process
development. We do not treat Chemical Process Technology starting from unifying disciplines like chemical
kinetics, physical transport phenomena, and reactor design. Rather, we discuss actual industrial processes that
all present fascinating challenges chemical engineers had to face and deal with during the development of these
processes. Often these processes still exhibit open challenges. Our goal is to help students and professionals
in developing a vision on chemical processes taking into account the micro scale ((bio)chemistry, physics),
the mesoscale (reactor, separation units), and the macro scale (the process).
Chemical process technology is not exclusively the domain of chemical engineers; chemists, biologists,
and physicists largely contribute to its development.We have attempted to provide students and professionals
involved in chemical process technology with a fresh, innovative background, and to stimulate them to think
“out of the box” and to be open to cooperation with scientists and engineers from other disciplines. Let us
think in “conceptual process designs” and invent and develop novel unit operations and processes!
We have been pragmatic in the clustering of the selected processes. For instance, the production of syngas
and processes in which syngas is the feedstock are treated in two sequential chapters. Processes based on
homogeneous catalysis using transition metal complexes share similar concepts and are treated in their own
chapter. Although in the first part of the book many solid-catalyzed processes are discussed, for the sake of
“symmetry” a chapter is also devoted to heterogeneous catalysis. This gave us the opportunity to emphasize
the concepts of this crucial topic that can be the inspiration for many new innovations. In practice, a large
distance often exists between those chemical reaction engineers active in homogeneous catalysis and those
in heterogeneous catalysis. For a scientist these sectors often are worlds apart, one dealing with coordination
chemistry and the other with nanomaterials. However, for a chemical reaction engineer the kinetics is similar
but the core difference is in the separation. When, by using a smart two-phase system or a membrane, the
homogeneous catalyst (or the biocatalyst) is kept in one part of the plant without a separation step, the
difference between homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysis vanishes. Thus, the gap between scientists
working in these two areas can be bridged by taking into account a higher level of aggregation.
From the wealth of chemical processes a selection had to be made. Knowledge of key processes is essential
for the understanding of the culture of the chemical engineering discipline. The first chapters deal with
processes related to the conversion of fossil fuels. Examples are the major processes in an oil refinery,
the production of light likeness, and the production of base chemicals from synthesis gas. In this second
edition we have added biomass as an alternative to feed stocks based on fossil fuels. Analogously to the
oil refinery, the (future) bio refinery is discussed. Biomass conversion processes nicely show the benefit of
having insight into the chemistry, being so different from that for processes based on the conversion of the
conventional feed stocks. It is fair to state that chemical engineers have been tremendously successful in the
bulk chemicals industry. In the past, in some other important sectors, this was not the case, but today also in
these fields chemical engineers are becoming more and more important. Major examples are the production
of fine chemicals and biotechnological processes. These subjects are treated in separate chapters. Recently,
the emphasis in chemical engineering has shifted to Sustainable Technology and, related to that, Process
Intensification. In this edition we have added a chapter devoted to this topic.

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