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Control Engineering for Chemical Engineers

By Lou Heavner, Emerson |

Chemical engineers who are aware of process control requirements and challenges are in a position to improve process designs Chemical engineers are ideal candidates for control engineering jobs. They understand processes and process design. However, many have never considered or studied process dynamics. Process engineers often provide the preliminary instrumentation and control requirements for new projects. Control engineering is just the next step. Control engineers try to identify and understand sources of process variability that can impact product quality, and then reduce the variability to mitigate its adverse economic effects. There are many renowned chemical engineers who have made careers and reputations for themselves as control engineers, including the prolific author Greg Shinskey, the father of model-predictive advanced control, Charles Cutler, and academics like Thomas Edgar, Thomas McAvoy and Dale Seborg. Even if a process engineer never becomes a control engineer, being aware of process control requirements and challenges will lead to better process designs. This article provides information to aid chemical engineers in their understanding of how to reduce process variability by better controlling processes. A…
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