Design of Unit Operations



Marianna KontopoulouDupuis Hall 533-3079
Aris DocoslisDupuis Hall 533-6949


Joshua RaveendranDupuis

Course Description

This course is part of the Engineering Design and Practice Sequence. Heat and mass transfer knowledge is applied in the analysis and design of unit operations, including separation processes and heat exchanging equipment. The equilibrium stage concept is used to perform calculations and size separation processes including distillation, gas absorption/stripping and liquid-liquid extraction. Heat transfer processes are taught with an emphasis on the design various types of heat exchanging equipment, including shell and tube heat exchangers, condensers and reboilers. The chemical process design component of the course involves a series of activities, dealing with the design of separation processes, heat exchanger sizing and design, process hazards analysis, implementation of instrumentation and construction of piping and instrument diagrams. In addition to choosing and sizing unit operations and implementing appropriate process instrumentation, the students will learn to use simulation tools and will incorporate economics, safety and environmental responsibility in all stages of the design. The course is integrated with CHEE 361 “Engineering Communications, Ethics and Professionalism.” (0/0/0/14/40)

Prerequisites:  APSC 200 or APSC 202, APSC 293, CHEE 311, CHEE 321, CHEE 330, or permission of the department.

Corequisite: 361

Objectives and Outcomes

This course develops the skills needed to design separation and heat transfer processes and to size/optimize related equipment. Emphasis is given to the associated health and safety risks, applicable standards, and economic, as well as environmental considerations and on how these considerations should be incorporated throughout the design process.

Specific course learning outcomes (CLOs) are:

  1. Development of engineering science knowledge on separation processes (distillation, absorption/stripping, extraction) and heat transfer processes (heat exchangers).
  2. Application of engineering science knowledge to size separation process equipment and heat exchangers.
  3. Development of competency in constructing process flow and P&I diagrams.
  4. Implementation of process instrumentation and simple control loops, as well as safety instrumentation.
  5. Development of competency in using engineering tools, such as Excel spreadsheets and Mathcad to perform engineering calculations. Implementation of process simulation software, such as Aspen HYSYS to simulate separation processes.
  6. Demonstrate the ability to provide accurate, comprehensive, objective technical opinions and recommendations, including the choice of appropriate processes and the development of documentation, such as equipment specifications, process flow diagrams and P&IDs.
  7. Identification of process hazards through process hazards analysis and incorporation elements of safety on all aspects of the design.
  8. Estimation of capital and utility costs, using appropriate costing tools. Process optimization based on cost considerations.
  9. Effective group work, including reflection of group work, while adopting a professional approach during all project phases.

This course assesses the following attributes:

Knowledge base for engineering (KB-PROC) (CLO 1-4)

CHEE-KB-PROC -3. Constructs process flow diagrams and/or P&IDs.
CHEE-KB-PROC -4. Applies engineering science knowledge to size various unit operations, including but not limited to pumps, heat exchangers, separation processes, and reactors.
CHEE-KB-THE-6. Solves single and multi-stage separation processes with non-ideal chemical mixtures.
CHEE-KB-HT-3. Solves problems involving convective heat transfer using appropriate correlations.     

Engineering Tools (CLO 5)

CHEE-TOO-4. Selects and applies appropriate software, models, and simulations.

Design (CLO 6-8)

CHEE-DE-1. Identifies problem, objectives and constraints including health and safety, environmental and societal issues and/or user needs.

CHEE-DE-2. Produces multiple potential solutions to meet functional specifications and compares solutions to select best concept.
CHEE-DE-3. Develops equipment, process or product design incorporating performance requirements and constraints such as quality, yield, reliability, economics, safety, and standards and codes as appropriate.
CHEE-DE-4.Creates and tests simulations, models, and/or prototypes at various points in design with complexity appropriate to design stage.

Impact of Engineering (CLO 7)

CHEE-IM-1. Assesses reliability, risk, regulatory compliance and safety and takes appropriate action to mitigate if issues identified.
CHEE-IM-2. Considers technical, financial, social, environmental, and legal factors, safety and sustainability issues when solving engineering problems.

Economics and project management (CLO 8)

CHEE-ECO-1. Applies economic considerations, such as capital and operating costs, to design processes. 

Individual and Team work (CLO 9)

CHEE-TEA-1. Contributes to team goal setting and participates equitably to all aspects of the group work
CHEE-TEA-3.Evaluates team effectiveness and plans for improvements. Applies principles of conflict management if applicable

Professionalism (CLO 6, 9)

CHEE-PRO-1. Demonstrates punctuality, timeliness, responsibility and appropriate communication etiquette.
CHEE-PRO-2. Provides accurate, comprehensive, objective technical opinions and recommendations.

Lifelong Learning (CLO 6)

CHEE-LL-1. Identifies and critically evaluates an appropriate range of information sources.

Relevance to the Program

This third year course is part of the engineering practice/design spine, which starts in first year and culminates in the fourth year capstone process design course. Being a third year-level course, the focus is on the development of competency in process design that is considered necessary to acquire proficiency at the graduating level. The course assumes knowledge of 2nd and 3rd year core courses, including engineering design and practice, fluid mechanics, heat and mass transfer and thermodynamics.

Course Structure and Activities

4 lecture hours + 1 two-hour workshop per week. Please refer to SOLUS for times and locations.


Recommended Textbook

  • Towler G. and Sinnott R., “Chemical Engineering Design: Principles and Economics of Plant and Process Design”, 2nd Edition, B-H, Elsevier

Additional Textbooks

  • Wankat P. C. (2017) “Separation Process Engineering”, Prentice Hall. E-book available from the Queen’s Library.
  • Serth R.W. (2007) “Process Heat Transfer – Principles and applications”, Academic Press. E-book available from the Queen’s Library.

Other Material

Students will be provided with appropriate online materials, as well as access to the Chemical Engineering Wiki page:

All course lecture slides, deliverables, assignments and tutorials will be posted through the on line learning management system (LMS). The LMS also serves as the official means of communication with the students.