Process Technology Systems

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9780130279385: Process Technology Systems

Focused on the technical background that underpins the responsibilities of the process operator, this book explores the basic chemical and physical principles used in the most common unit operations found in chemical plants, petrochemical plants, refineries, and related industries. Content is neither industry or product specific. Contains easy-to-read charts, graphs, and figures. Heat as a Source of Energy. Combustion and Furnaces. Steam Generation. Steam Distribution and Condensate Recovery. Refrigeration. Distillation. Water Treatment. Cooling Tower. Extraction and Settlement. Crystallization and Filtration. Chemical Reactions. Absorption. Adsorption. Evaporation and Drying. Utilities. For Process Operators in the chemical, petrochemical, refinery, and related industries.

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A process operator must be trained intensively in the use of standard operating procedures to establish and sustain standard operating conditions for processes that use proven process technology. Process operators have the responsibility to operate carefully-designed facilities that produce high value-in-use products from a wide range of chemical feed stocks in a safe environment. A typical process operator must also work effectively with a team of peers during start-ups, shutdowns, and process upsets.

Traditional training for an entry level process operator begins on the job and continues until he or she is qualified to fill a specific job assignment. This is normally a position within a shift team that operates several continuous units in series.

Initial training continues for a number of months. The training regimen for a fully qualified process operator may well cover several years as he or she qualifies for several positions. In reality, an effective process operator training program never ceases. Process technology will surely be adapted in unpredictable ways to produce new and novel products, and to improve on existing process techniques. As a result, process operators train in new procedures and master new applications of process technology throughout their careers in order to fill the changing demands of the job.

There is a growing need to require .basic technical qualifications that compliment traditional operational skills learned on the job for entry-level process operator candidates. A process operator who has a fundamental knowledge of the chemical and physical principles at work in chemical plants is an attractive candidate for employment. He or she brings the tools needed to detect, analyze, and communicate changes in process conditions to the job. An operations team consisting totally of members educated in process technology will surely be one standard used to define the chemical industry workforce of the future.

Two concepts support the strategy to specify a technical education or the equivalent as a qualification for an entry-level process operator. First, the process operator is ideally positioned to continuously detect, analyze, document, and communicate both measured and observed process conditions. The quality of the technical content of the process operator's observations has a significant effect on plant performance. Second, the time and cost investments necessary to educate a process operator about the chemical and physical principles that he or she can put to immediate use on the job can yield a high return in performance. These are sound concepts because large chemical plants are staffed with technical specialists who rely upon information provided by process operators. A team with precise and accurate data, supplied by a technically astute process operator, improves the performance of both the process operator and the support groups with which he or she works.

The Gulf Coast Process Technology Alliance (GCPTA) has defined an educational program in process technology for students who aspire to be process operators. Community colleges, with financial and technical encouragement from industry, have responded to the GCPTA guidelines with the introduction of a two-year associate degree program in process technology. The process technology courses in the program are backed by required courses in math, chemistry, and physics.

Early on, a void in suitable materials to teach process technology, as defined in the GCPTA guidelines, became apparent. The texts used in undergraduate engineering programs are rightfully focused on the education of future designers and engineers who require knowledge of nonideal chemical and physical behavior. Process operators, however, need a technical education that is centered around the well-defined process technology at work in existing facilities. The measurements and observations of process conditions in the process operator milieu depict actual chemical and physical behavior under conditions carried out in precisely designed facilities.

Handbooks, training films, and service manuals provide valuable technical explanations and procedures for the process operator. Their content is focused primarily on the care and routine operation of specific equipment combinations.

In summary, the foremost objective in teaching process technology to process operator candidates is indoctrination into the principles of physics and chemistry that are essential to understanding the unit operations commonly used in most chemical plants. A corollary objective is to introduce the use of technical symbols and terms that accurately and concisely describe process conditions and the process variables used to control those conditions.

Thomas D. Felder

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