Teaching Process Design through Integrated Process Synthesis


  • Matthew J. Metzger Rutgers University
  • Benjamin J. Glasser Rutgers University
  • Bilal Patel The University of the Witwatersrand
  • Diane Hildebrandt The University of the Witwatersrand
  • David Glasser The University of the Witwatersrand


The design course is an integral part of chemical engineering education. A novel approach to the design course was recently introduced at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. The course aimed to introduce students to systematic tools and techniques for setting and evaluating performance targets for processes, as well as gaining insight into how these targets can be achieved. The main objectives were efficient use of raw materials, energy and improved environmental performance (reducing CO2 emissions). The approach is to use fundamental principles – mass, energy and entropy – to identify limits of operation or targets. Unlike the traditional approach to process design where the flow sheet is normally chosen from existing literature or from prior knowledge, the flow sheet emerges from the analysis in this new approach. The course was well received by students and allowed the students to gain a better understanding of developing processes which are efficient and have less impact on the environment.

Author Biographies

Matthew J. Metzger, Rutgers University

is a post-doctoral associate at Rutgers University, where he received his Ph.D. He spent two years working with the COMPS group at the University of the Witwatersrand as a graduate student and post-doc. His interests include granular materials, identifying promising processes from an energy and emissions perspective, and sustainable energy production.

Benjamin J. Glasser, Rutgers University

is a professor of chemical and biochemical engineering at Rutgers University. He earned degrees in chemical engineering from the University of the Witwatersrand (B.S., M.S.) and Princeton University (Ph.D.). His research interests include granular flows, gas-particle flows, multiphase reactors, and nonlinear dynamics of transport processes.

Bilal Patel, The University of the Witwatersrand

is a consultant at the Centre of Material and Process Synthesis (COMPS), the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. He obtained his B.Sc. (chem. eng.) in 2002 and Ph.D. from the University of the Witwatersrand in 2007. His field of interest is process synthesis and integration, particularly in developing systematic methods and tools to aid in flowsheet synthesis, especially tools that can be implemented in the conceptual phase of the design process. These tools should aid in setting targets for processes in order to ensure that processes are designed to be efficient, environmentally friendly, and sustainable.

Diane Hildebrandt, The University of the Witwatersrand

is the co-founder of COMPS at the University of the Witwatersrand. She received her B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. from the University of the Witwatersrand and currently leads the academic and consultant research teams at the university. She has published more than 50 referred journal articles on topics ranging from process synthesis to thermodynamics.

David Glasser, The University of the Witwatersrand

is a director of the Centre of Material and Process Synthesis at the University of the Witwatersrand. He is acknowledged as a world-leading researcher in the field of reactor and process optimization, and is an NRF A1 rated researcher. His extensive publication record and research areas extend from reactor design and optimization to distillation and process optimization and intensification.