00501 - Introduction to Unit Operations in the Chemical Industry

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 2019/2020

Learning outcomes

The purpose of this course is to present and discuss elementary tools for the understanding of the performance of equipment and plants in the chemical and process industry. The first goal is to provide the students with basic tools for the study of selected apparatus and operations and for making quantitative previsions about the performance of separation processes and chemical reactors; an additional goal is to discuss the main features of typical equipment of the chemical industry.

Course contents

Preliminary Remarks 
The course is divided in two parts:

Part 1 (4 CFU) – Prof.ssa Giuseppina Montante

Part 2 (6 CFU) – Prof. Davide Pinelli

  Part 1

Material and energy balances for chemical equipment and plants.

Models for equipment for the chemical and process industry: equilibrium stage, degrees of freedom, design and rating problems. Humidification operations; drying. Flash distillation.

Fluid flow: regimes for the flow in tubes and pipes, Bernoulli's equation, pressure drops, pumps.


Part 2

Simple flow models (perfect mixing and plug flow)

Interphase mass transfer: phase and overall mass transfer coefficients; mean logarithmic composition difference.

Heat transfer: conduction, convection, overall transfer coefficients, mean logarithmic temperature difference, heat exchangers.

Chemical reactors: main types; isothermal ideal reactors (batch, CSTR, PFR) and performance comparison; design criteria and rating problems; yield and selectivity problems.

Separation Processes: principles, working characteristics, design elements and rating problems relative to the following unit operations: absorption and stripping (in staged and packed columns); evaporation; adsorption


Part 1

R.M. Felder, R.W. Rousseau, Elementary Principles of Chemical Processes, 3^ ed., Wiley, 2000.

Part 2

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

V. Petrone, E. Fioco, L'Impianto Chimico, Ed. Scient. Siderea, Roma, 2000.

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


[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 a 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 the equipment and the basis design rules, in addition to the understanding of the chemical and physical phenomena occurring in 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 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 duringthe course. The global score is equal to the score of the written exam plus or minus three points, depending on the oral exam assessment.


Teaching tools

Syllabus, drawings, plots, tables and text of exercises: distributed in class during the course.

Office hours

See the website of Davide Pinelli

See the website of Giuseppina Montante