Process safety engineering involves the use of fundamental engineering knowledge (e.g., thermodynamics, fluid dynamics, and kinetics) to develop and apply measures to prevent, mitigate, and respond to catastrophic incidents. The objective of this discipline is to understand and address the complex and dynamic interactions between process design, material characteristics and behaviors, human-machine interfaces, and management systems. It is closely related to reliability engineering, organizational science, and equipment design and construction, as well as sustainable development.
In the November AIChE Journal Perspective article, “Trends and Challenges in Process Safety,” M. Sam Mannan and co-authors of Texas A&M Univ. discuss the complex nature of process safety incidents and the need for a systematic approach to address those incidents. Since the goal of process safety is to avoid harm due to loss of containment of hazardous substances, it is essential to predict potentially disastrous scenarios, the degree and extent of damage associated with each scenario, and the actions necessary to prevent them or to reduce the consequences if one were to occur. A fundamental understanding of the science behind the hazardous incidents — through proper application of engineering and scientific principles — is necessary to predict...
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