(326e) The First Course: An Introduction to Process Systems

Reklaitis, G. V., Purdue University

The traditional material and energy balance course serves many educational objectives in preparing students for the remainder of the curriculum and thus runs the risk of addressing a multitude of disparate topics. The narrower perspective taken in my textbook was that this course is the first exposure of the student to process flowhsheets and the rigorous accounting of material and energy flows and thus serves as the foundation for an integrated view of process systems. To build this foundation the course and book thus has three specific educational goals:

1. To provide a thorough exposition for balance equation concepts

2. To develop a systematic framework for the analysis of flowsheet information and specifications

3. To present systematic approaches for solution of flowsheet balance problems

In most ChE curricula, this integrated view of process systems is not revised until the process control and design courses in the senior year. All of the other courses, essentially fill in the detail with regard to the various unit operations "boxes" that the student sees in the first course. Thus, just as the design course is often described as the captstone course, the first course is can in fact be termed the cornerstone course for the process systems perspective.