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This book was first published as Volume 6 of the Chemical Engineering series edited by Coulson and Richardson. It was originally intended to be a standalone design textbook for undergraduate design projects that would supplement the other volumes in the Coulson and Richardson series. Emphasis was placed on the practice of process and equipment design, while the reader was referred to the other volumes in the series and other chemical engineering textbooks for details of the fundamental principles underlying the design methods.
In adapting this book for the North American market, we have followed the same philosophy, seeking to create a comprehensive guide to process plant design that could be used as part of the typical chemical engineering curriculum, while providing references to more detailed and specialized texts wherever necessary. The design procedures can be used without the need for reference to the other books, research papers, or websites cited. We recognize that chemical engineers work in a very diverse set of industries, and many of these industries have their own design conventions and specialized equipment.

We have attempted to include examples and problems from a broad range of process industries, but where space or our lack of expertise in the subject has limited coverage of a particular topic, references to design methods available in the general literature are provided. In writing this book, we have drawn on our experience of the industrial practice of process design, as well as our experience teaching design at the University of Wales Swansea, University of Manchester, and Northwestern University.
Since the book is intended to be used in practice and not just as a textbook, our aim has been to describe the tools and methods that are most widely used in industrial process design. We have deliberately avoided describing idealized conceptual methods developed by researchers that have not yet gained wide currency in industry. The reader can find good descriptions of these methods in the research literature and in more academic textbooks. Standards and codes of practice are an essential part of engineering; therefore, the relevant North American standards are cited.
The codes and practices covered by these standards will be applicable to other countries. They will be covered by equivalent national standards in most developed countries, and in some cases the relevant British, European, or International standards have also been cited. Brief summaries of important U.S. and Canadian safety and environmental legislation have been given in the relevant chapters. The design engineer should always refer to the original source references of laws, standards, and codes of practice, as they are updated frequently. All of the costs and examples have been put on a U.S. basis, and examples have been provided in both metric and conventional units.

Where possible, the terminology used in the U.S. engineering and construction industry has been used. Most industrial process design is carried out using commercial design software. Extensive reference has been made to commercial process and equipment design software throughout the book. Many of the commercial software vendors provide licenses of their software for educational purposes at nominal fees. We strongly recommend that students be introduced to commercial software at as early a stage in their education as possible. The use of academic design and costing software should be discouraged. Academic programs usually lack the quality control and support required by industry, and the student is unlikely to use such software after graduation.
All computer-aided design tools must be used with some discretion and engineering judgment on the part of the designer. This judgment mainly comes from experience, but we have tried to provide helpful tips on how to best use computer tools. The art and practice of design cannot be learned from books. The intuition and judgment necessary to apply theory to practice will come only from practical experience. We trust that this book will give its readers a modest start on that road.