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Are Your Students Getting the Most out of the Process Simulator?

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Broad Perspectives on the Chemical Engineering Curriculum

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.233.1 - 26.233.7



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Paper Authors


Joseph A. Shaeiwitz Auburn University

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Joe Shaeiwitz is a Visiting Professor of Chemical Engineering at Auburn University and an Emeritus Professor at West Virginia University. He is a co-author of "Analysis, Synthesis, and Design of Chemical Processes," 4th ed., published by Prentice Hall. Joe is active in ASEE, AIChE, and ABET. He co-chaired the 2012 ASEE CHE Division Summer School, is currently vice-chair of the AIChE Education and Accreditation Committee, has been an ABET program evaluator for over 20 years, and helps train new ABET program evaluators.

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Richard Turton P.E. West Virginia University

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Richard Turton is the WVU Bolton Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at West Virginia University. He has taught the senior design course for the last 29 years and is co-author of the textbook Analysis, Synthesis, and Design of Chemical Processes now in its 4th edition. He is currently working on a new book with Joe Shaeiwitz on equipment design.

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Process simulators allow students to perform in-depth analyses of chemical process designs, includingeconomic optimization, due to the ability to run multiple case studies rapidly. However, students oftenuse them carelessly and treat the results superficially. One example of careless use of a process simulator is when a zoned analysis is needed for a heatexchanger. Many chemical processes have a liquid feed that must be vaporized and superheated beforeentering a reactor, requiring a multi-zone heat exchanger. The typical simulator interface for a heatexchanger requires one input for a heat transfer coefficient, which does not correctly model a multi-zoneheat exchanger. Each zone must be treated as a separate heat exchanger. Another example occurs whenstudents are taught about heat integration and include it in a design. A heat exchanger that, for example,uses a reactor effluent stream to help preheat the reactor feed might have a close temperature approach. Itis very common to see a 1-2 exchanger used without regard for the low, or even impossible, log-mean-temperature-difference correction factor. Another commonly observed situation is a reactor with heat exchange that is way oversized, becausethe concentration profiles were not examined, and the product composition has either leveled out or begunto decrease due to side reactions. Experience shows that it is one thing for students to answer questionsabout selectivity in a reaction engineering class, but it is different when they have to recognize poorselectivity in the context of a simulation. Examples of these and other similar situations will be presented, along with suggested methods forteaching students to simulate their processes correctly. It is hoped that the audience will participate andsuggest other examples of the careless use of process simulators.

Shaeiwitz, J. A., & Turton, R. (2015, June), Are Your Students Getting the Most out of the Process Simulator? Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23572

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