Meet Process Engineer Dr. Sirshendu Guha

Welcome to the latest in a series of AIChE blog posts profiling process engineers, a diverse group of professionals spanning multiple industries and regions. In this series, we profile process engineers who work in diverse fields, including petrochemicals, pharma, bulk chemicals, food, or any process-intensive industry.

Are you a member and process engineer interested in being profiled? We'd love to hear from you via this volunteer opportunity. Please also check out our online discussion group specifically for process engineers. You can find out about these initiatives and join our efforts by visiting https://www.aiche.org/processengineering.

This month, we introduce you to Dr. Sirshendu Guha, Deputy General Manager at Engineers India Limited, New Delhi, India. He discusses his accomplishments, challenges he's faced throughout his career, and why his work is important.

Tell us a bit about your work as a process engineer.

I am presently working as Deputy General Manager in the Process Design and Development Division of Engineers India Limited, New Delhi. I act as process team leader and guide a group of process engineers in carrying out various functions of the Process Engineering Division of Engineers India Limited.

I am also tasked with selecting different licensors and technology providers in the field of refineries and petrochemicals, as well as helping to select the best-fit licensor for a particular project. I also participate in HAZOP studies as team leader. I have consultancy experience for completing various projects in the fields of refineries, gas processing and petrochemicals, and chemicals and fertilizers for 23 years at Engineers India Limited. I also have three years of experience in process development at Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Mumbai, India.

My doctoral research in CAPEX minimization is my most important contribution to society as a process engineer.

Tell us about your background and why you become a process engineer?

I graduated from the University of Calcutta, Kolkata, India with a degree in Chemistry (Honours). I then completed B.Tech in Chemical Engineering from the University of Calcutta, Kolkata, India, and subsequently I completed M.Tech in Process Engineering and Design from the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi. I received my Ph.D. (Tech) degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Calcutta, Kolkata, with a thesis in the field of resilience engineering for process systems.”

I have published a total of 15 papers in international journals and conferences to date. I have delivered a talk on process system resilience at the University of California at Berkeley, U.S., and have attended the AIChE annual meetings in 2017 and 2019 to make oral presentations on process system resilience and process intensification. I have received the Certificate of Outstanding Contribution in Reviewing from the Journal of Loss Prevention in the Process Industries in January 2017 for completing 38 reviews to date. I am a regular reviewer for the Journal of Loss Prevention in the Process Industries and the Computers and Chemical Engineering Journal.

I am an AIChE Senior Member and IIChE Life Member. I developed keen interest in process engineering and design during my M.Tech course at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, India. I have also worked as Scientist in the Process Engineering and Systems Development Division in Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Mumbai (BARC). I worked at BARC for around four years and then joined Engineers India Limited, New Delhi, as Senior Process Engineer. 

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced in your role as a process engineer?

The biggest challenge I faced while carrying out process engineering activities was debottlenecking old existing process units such as delayed coker unit (DCU), fluidised catalytic cracker unit (FCCU), naphtha hydro-treater unit (NHT), and catalytic reformer unit (CRU) for capacity expansions. The reason is the unavailability of existing process engineering documents such as basic design engineering packages (BDEPs), equipment layouts, etc.

How was your work as a process engineer critical to your particular job assignment or industry?

In my present organization, process engineers provide the basic design engineering deliverables (e.g., process flow diagrams (PFDs), piping and instrumentation diagrams (P&IDs), heat and material balance sheets (H&MBs), process datasheets for equipment and instruments, utility balance summary, flare load summary, effluent summary, line lists, and more) to other engineering divisions for carrying out other related detailed engineering activities.

Therefore, the other engineering divisions such as Mechanical Equipment, Piping, Instrumentation, Electrical, General Civil, Structural, etc., are highly dependent on the process deliverables, generated by process engineers, working in the Process Design and Development Division.

What do you think was most important about what you did as a process engineer?

My doctoral research was to show how inherent energy resilience for process systems can be conceptualized from the perspectives of material resilience for development of correlations that can be used to assess resilience properties of constituent process systems pertaining to a Gas Sweetening Unit (GSU).

The above described concept developed during my Ph.D. work, provided a frame work for application of inherent energy resilience analysis into process equipment design with regard to its cost reduction and identification of thermodynamically efficient operating capacity regime for the purpose of energy usage optimization. 

Since the concept is applicable to any process system as well as process unit, usage of this concept will provide roadmaps for minimizing CAPEX (capital expenditure) at the cost of little enhancement in OPEX (operating expenditure) for any process plant in CPI. I think development of the above-described methodology for CAPEX minimization is my most important contribution to society as a process engineer.

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