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Seeking input on distillation education, and more June Letters

By Chemical Engineering |

Seeking input on distillation education

Right now, distillation engineers are extremely busy — globally, and especially in the U.S. The AIChE Distillation Symposium (May, San Antonio, Tex.) that was organized by Henry Kister and Mike Pritchett had an amazing number of presentations and attendees.

FRI is the world’s premier distillation research facility. FRI engineers who teach a separations course at Oklahoma State University had an idea: To create a training module entitled “Distillation” for university chemical engineering courses. That module would include PowerPoint presentations, videos from FRI’s experimental unit and an easy-to-use computer program.

The PowerPoint presentations would include the following: boiling points including pressure effects, relative volatilities, y -versus- x vapor-liquid equilibrium (VLE) graphs, McCabe-Thiele constructions, VLE thermodynamic models, process simulation programs, the reflux concept, equilibrium stages, staging-versus-reflux graphs, reboilers and more. FRI engineers would continuously keep the presentations up-to-date.

The videos would show the FRI test columns and would include descriptions of the following: boiler, cooling tower, storage tanks, pumps, valves, thermocouples and more. The videos would also include footage through the FRI column windows — trays and packings in operation, including at the flood points.

The computer program, which is presently called “DRP Lite,” would allow future engineers to size (roughly) trayed and packed (random and structured) columns, using popular literature correlations. Capacities, pressure drops and efficiencies would be calculated.

The proposed FRI training module would not be designed to replace textbooks or the presentations that typically accompany textbooks. Instead, the training module would augment those materials by providing real-world photographs and videos. The training module would include hot-off-the-presses data, information and technologies. Homework problems would still come from the textbooks. The training module would assume that a total of eight 1.5-h lectures would be devoted in a separations class to distillation. The target audience would be college juniors, seniors and graduate students in chemical engineering programs.

FRI engineers have not yet initiated work on the training module. We await input from Chemical Engineering readers, including students, recent graduates and instructors. Would you use such a module? Any ideas for such a module? Please provide a paragraph or two to

Mike Resetarits
Fractionation Research, Inc. (FRI)


Bringing mobility to the plant

Just started going through the April issue of CE this weekend. Excellent segment on the use of mobile technology. Very timely and well done.

Bill Huitt
W. M. Huitt Co.



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