Using new versions of AspenPlus and Comsol Multiphysics

Progress has been slow, but is picking up. I’ve finished learning how to use the new AspenPlus 7.3 to obtain vapor liquid equilibrium data for binary mixtures in order to compare predictions made in Aspen using different equations of state. This is a great feature and I’ve made it an integral part of several chapters. It is very nice to have this connection with the NIST data right in the Aspen program. No longer is there an excuse for not checking your thermodynamic models. Throughout Chapters 2-7 the procedure is to use information in Aspen to select a few suitable thermodynamic models, and then test them against actual experimental data. Then, and only then, can you be sure your calculations are realistic. There is another new feature of Aspen that I will include, but haven’t yet: impact of greenhouse gas emissions for a process.  Thus, the processes in Chapter 5 and 7 of the first edition can easily be examined for greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, I’ve developed major sections (with problems) for the processes of integrated gas combined cycle and ethanol from corn stover.

I’ve also redone Chapters 8-11 using Comsol Multiphysics 4.1; those chapters will be checked with version 4.2, which came out in June. But, there are lots of problems added with realistic chemical reactor problems solved in Excel, MATLAB, AspenPlus, and Comsol Multiphysics. Left to be done are problems involving pressure swing adsorption to purify a stream of hydrogen and carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. This process will illustrate different numerical methods that are suitable for problems that are basically hyperbolic – having a wave front that moves in time.

Appendices A-D are completely redone to take into account the latest interfaces in Excel, MATLAB, AspenPlus, and Comsol Multiphysics. One new appendix is on Numerical Analysis. The material in the first edition will be expanded with more detail. Already some problems are in the chapters so that instructors who want to emphasize numerical analysis can do so. However, my recommendation is still to focus on the chemical engineering aspects, using the computer programs to solve the problems (they are nearly all nonlinear) with appropriate checks.

My guess is that this will be the first book that includes the latest versions of both AspenPlus and Comsol Multiphysics, mainly because the new versions came out in June and I’ve incorporated them into the book already. The downside is that it will also probably be the first one to be out of date when the programs are revised again! But, the second edition will be useful for many years, and hopefully chemical engineering students will find the new problems of interest.

Bruce A. Finlayson


About chemecomp

Bruce A. Finlayson, retired Rehnberg Professor of Chemical Engineering, University of Washington
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