66183 - Chemical Reactors and Separation Process Technology M

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Affordable and clean energy Industry, innovation and infrastructure

Academic Year 2018/2019

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course the student has skills for the discussion of the basic elements of chemical reaction engineering, aimed at the understanding and the prediction of the performance of chemical reactors and to provide the students with basic tools for the study of selected apparatus, instrumentation and operations and for making quantitative previsions about the performance of separation processes. The student has acquired the main tools to deal with the quantitative study of chemical reactors, is able to cope with simple problems of modelling and gained information about the configuration and the construction of some typical reactors used in chemical industry. After completing this course, in addition, the student has knowledge and skills in using spreadsheet software for setting up and solving problems related to the content taught. Finally, an additional goal is the fully understanding of the of main documents issued during basic design of process plants (BFD, PFD, P&ID, equipment datasheet, sketches).

Course contents

Preliminary Remarks 

The course is divided in two parts: Chemical Reactors (5 CFU) – Prof. Davide Pinelli 

Separation Process Technology (5 CFU) – Prof. Alessandro Paglianti   

Chemical Reactors

Introduction: types of reactors, solution of design and rating problems, modelling and simulation of the performance of chemical reactors. Variable-density and flow rate systems. Influence of temperature: temperature dependence of kinetic constants, specific heat and heat of reaction. Equilibrium conversion for reversible reactions. Isokinetic curves and conversion vs temperature diagrams. Graphical method for the determination of the reactor volume. Optimum profile for irreversible and reversible reactions (exothermic and endothermic). Enthalpy balance: adiabatic reactor or reactors with heat transfer. Adiabatic reactor systems. Stability for exothermic CSTR. Multiphase reactor systems - gas / liquid: general concepts and types of reactors. Effect of the presence of a chemical reaction in the liquid phase of a gas liquid reactor. Identification of the rate limiting step and kinetic regimes: slow reaction, fast reaction, instant reaction. Kinetic equations for  simplified conditions and generalized solution. Basic notions on the choice of reactor type and examples of the design of gas/liquid reactors. Multiphase reactors - fluid-solid/heterogeneous catalysis systems: general concepts and types of reactors. Kinetic equations, criteria for the assessment of diffusion phenomena, catalyst efficiency, influence of temperature. Introduction to fluidization and fluidised bed reactors: calculation of minimum fluidization velocity, homogeneous and bubble fluidisation. Non-ideal flow reactors: deviations from ideality, residence times distribution and age curve, the E and F curves; experimental techniques: stimulus/response methods, impulsive disturbance and step disturbance. Segregated flow models and limits of their applicability. Other flow models: plug flow with axial dispersion. Coupling of ideal flow models for the simulation of the fluid dynamic behaviour of an actual reactor.   

Separation Process Technology 

Introduction and analysis of Chemical Processes: Block Flow Diagram (BFD), Process Flow Diagram (PFD), Process and Instrumentation diagram (P&ID). Instrumentation and Typical Control systems: Flowmeters, pressure gauges, thermocouples, resistive temperature devices; flow control, pressure control, Level control, temperature control; pressure safety valves (PSV) and rupture discs. Tanks and Pumping of fluids:Storage and Process Tanks, centrifugal and reciprocating pumps, Characteristic curves, NPSH. Process fluids. Hot fluids: water, superheated water, steam, diathermic oil. Cold fluids: cooling tower water, refrigerants. Evaporation: Single and Multiple-Effect operation, P&ID examples. Natural and forced circulation calandria. Vapour recompression: Mechanical and Thermal recompression. Distillation: Flash distillation, Continuous distillation with Reflux: material balances, number of ideal plates in plate columns, enthalpy balances, Multiple-Effect operation and vapour recompression. Gas Absorption: Design of packed tower: hydraulic and mass transfer correlation, Absorption with chemical reaction.



Chemical Reactors:

H.S. Fogler, Elements of Chemical Reaction Engineering, 2a edizione, Prentice-Hall International Inc., 1995.

O. Levenspiel, Chemical Reaction Engineering, 3a edizione, J.Wiley & Sons, 1999

C. Gostoli, Trasporto di materia con elementi di reattoristica chimica e biochimica, Pitagora Editrice, Bologna, 2011.

Separation Process Technology:

W.L. McCabe, J.C. Smith, P. Harriott, Unit Operations of Chemical Engineering, 5^ ed., McGraw-Hill, 1993.

E. Treybal, Mass-Transfer Operations, 3^ ed., McGraw-Hill, 1981.

R.H. Perry Chemical Engineers' Handbook, 7^ ed., McGraw-Hill, 1998.

UNICHIM, Impianti Chimici- Simboli e sigle per schemi e disegni, ed. 1986.

[Though warmly recommended to the students for widening their knowledge of the various topics, these books are not formally adopted as textbooks nor followed in any detailed way].

Teaching methods

The lessons on the above-mentioned topics and solution of exercises in class in the standard format, according to the official timetable. 

Assessment methods

The aim of the final examination (one for the whole course) is to evaluate the achievement of the main goals of the course, specifically:

- the capability to adopt suitable analysis and calculation techniques, which are presented during the course, in order to understand the working principles of chemical reactors,  equipments and the basis design rules, in addition to the understanding of the chemical and physical phenomena occurring in chemical reactors, equipment and processes of the chemical industry;

- the capability to use the outcomes obtained by the above analysis to improve the performances of equipment and processes of the chemical industry.

The final assessment will be via a written exam of 3 hours with the solution of problems and exercises and an oral part. During the written assessment, the use of books, drawings, plots, tables, memoranda and text of exercises is allowed.

The goal of this assessment is to check if the student is able to solve exercises on various topics of the course. The score is given in thirtieths.

The goal of the oral part is to ascertain the full understanding of both the basic principles and the design rules of equipment and processes considered during the course. The score of the oral part is given in thirtieths.

The global score, given in thirtieths, is the arithmetic mean of the scores obtained in the two parts of the course.


Teaching tools

Video projector, PC, blackboard. Syllabus, tables, plots and text of exercise: distributed in class during the course.

Office hours

See the website of Davide Pinelli

See the website of Alessandro Paglianti