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  5. Building on a strong tradition of chemical engineering texts

Building on a strong tradition of chemical engineering texts

The publication of Laboratory Course in Electrochemistry in 1914 by Oliver P. Watts kicked off a Wisconsin tradition with which we are all familiar: leadership in chemical engineering education through the development of textbooks.

With the recent publication of a text on mathematical modeling and analysis, with the recent publication of two substantially revised second editions of influential UW texts, and with a new take on the classic text, Transport Phenomena in the hopper, the century-long tradition continues unabated.

Modeling and Analysis Principles for Chemical and Biological Engineers, published in 2013 by Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor and Harvey D. Spangler Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering Mike Graham and Paul A. Elfers Professor and W. Harmon Ray Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering Jim Rawlings, tackles the daunting challenge of incorporating into a one- or two-semester course sequence for new graduate students the wide range of mathematical principles and methods that are essential to modern research in chemical and biological engineering—and it does so while not losing the essential aspects of traditional mathematical modeling syllabi.

The text covers important topics that are not represented in traditional texts, which often have a bias toward the mathematics of 19th- through early 20th-century physics. Among the new topics included are matrix factorizations such as the singular value decomposition, basic qualitative dynamics of nonlinear differential equations, integral representations of partial differential equations, probability and stochastic processes, and state estimation.

The book, which has already been adopted in the curricula of five major universities, will be of substantial interest to active researchers as well as graduate students as it is in many respects a survey of the applied mathematics commonly encountered by chemical and biological engineering practitioners, and contains many topics that were almost certainly absent when researchers who are active today pursued their chemical engineering graduate coursework.

In 2012, Rawlings and University of Texas at Austin professor John Ekerdt (who earned a UW-Madison bachelor's degree in chemical and biological engineering in 1974) published a second edition of their 2002 text, Chemical Reactor Analysis and Design Fundamentals. The original text, which has been widely adopted, was developed in response to the rapidly changing landscape of scale and type of reactors of interest to practicing chemical engineers, including chemical vapor deposition reactors, pharmaceutical fermenters, and micro-reactors, as well as traditional catalytic crackers, and bulk polymerization reactors.

The authors sought to deal with this complexity by focusing on a set of fundamentals that apply to all scales and all types of reaction and transport processes involving chemical change, providing students with a framework for how to think about reactors while taking full advantage of modern computational approaches.

The second edition extends this approach, making the computational appendix available online while adding a chapter to address the increasingly prominent role of manufacturing solid or particulate products in the chemical process industries. Since the manufacture of value-added products using biological cells is a prime example of this class or systems, this new chapter also discusses the balances required to describe and analyze bioreactors. The revised text also addresses the trend toward increased reliance on discrete, stochastic models and stochastic simulation to augment the core continuous, deterministic models of classical chemical reaction engineering, especially in the area of systems biology and in describing particulate reactors.

Hot off the presses, another departmental text that takes a different approach to the problem of reactor design has been released in its second edition. John T. and Magdalen L. Sobota Professor Emeritus of Chemical and Biological Engineering Charlie Hill and Chemical and Biological Engineering Professor Thatcher Root have extensively revised Hill's 1977 text, An Introduction to Chemical Engineering Kinetics and Reactor Design.

Both the original and the revised versions of the text take a pedagogical approach involving applications of the laws of conservation of mass and energy to increasingly difficult situations. Both versions include a large number of practical problems encompassing a wide range of situations, and feature actual chemical compounds and interpretation of actual data from the literature.

Three-quarters of the problems in the revised version are new, with many of the new problems designed to take advantage of advances in both the relevant computer software and the degree of computer literacy expected of students matriculating in chemical engineering undergraduate programs. Given the large array of problems presented, instructors can choose to focus on particular aspects of reactor design, and practicing engineers engaged in self-study will find problems useful in assessing their own command of a particular topic area of immediate interest.

Finally, Professor Emeritus of Chemical and Biological Engineering Bob Bird and Dan Klingenberg are collaborating on Introductory Transport Phenomena. The new book follows roughly the structure of the classic text, Transport Phenomena (a.k.a. BSL), but focuses on undergraduate material. When Bob Bird, Warren Stewart, and Ed Lightfoot published the original text in 1960, they noted in the introduction the inclusion of advanced material that would “serve as a warning to the undergraduate that the ‘boundaries of the course’ do not coincide with the ‘boundaries of the subject.’” With the second edition, published in 2002, the three authors drew on their own research experience to add even more advanced material requiring a higher level of mathematics than the original.

Having taught the undergraduate course in transport at UW for more than two decades, Klingenberg has a good appreciation for how the course is currently taught and for the needs of undergraduates who grapple with the complex material. BSLK, as it may come to be known, will incorporate a number of significant changes, such as removing most of the advanced (class “D”) problems, providing more detail and explanation in the classical problems, adding new sections and examples, and including units for numerical quantities in the illustrative examples.

Bird and Klingenberg hope to have BSLK available for use in classes in the spring of 2015. It is their intent that BSL will remain in print as well to support instruction at more advanced levels.

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