Course Syllabus

For the Fall 2020 semester, Process Design I (CH EN 4253) will be held entirely online. Lectures, discussion/help sessions, and office hours will be conducted via Zoom. All lectures and discussion sessions will be screencast and made available for later viewing by students. However, a portion of the grade is based on class participation so students should plan on attending class during the scheduled lecture time.


Prof. Kevin Whitty
Physical Office:  WEB 1666
Virtual Office:  Zoom Meeting Room
Office hours:   Thursdays 12-1pm  (physical or virtual office)
                                 Fridays 12-1 pm  (virtual office)



Jieun Kim
TA hours:  Thurs 4-6 PM
TA Zoom Meeting Room 1

Zach Reinking
TA hours:  Mon 4-6 PM
TA Zoom Meeting Room 2


Lecture MWF 9:40-10:30
Class will meet as usual during the Sept 28-Oct 10 period
Online meeting:  Zoom Meeting Room


Material from a variety of sources will be used throughout the course. The primary textbooks that will be used are shown below. It is not necessary to purchase textbooks, since the main ones used in this course are available through the Marriott Library and eBook Central. Other reading material will be provided as PDF files.

Chemical Engineering Design – Principles, Practice and
of Plant and Process Design, second ed. (2013)
Towler, G. and Sinnott, R.
ISBN 978-0-08-096659-5
Access the book online for free via eBook Central



Perry’s Chemical Engineers’ Handbook, eighth ed. (2008)
Green, D.W. and Perry, R.H.
ISBN 978-0-07-142294-9
Access the book online for free via eBook Central




Process Design I is the first of two courses focused on analysis and design of full-scale chemical process plants. In this part of the course, students will learn to choose and develop detailed designs of chemical process equipment including pressure vessels, pumps, compressors, heat exchangers, reactors, absorbers, strippers and distillation columns. Students will learn how to estimate the cost of such equipment, evaluate overall plant economics, and base design decisions on lowest-cost options. Students will be introduced to and become familiar with process simulation software, primarily Aspen Plus.



     6%      (lecture attendance)
  24%      (best 8 of 10, each worth 3% of overall points)
  50%      (5 exams, 10% each)

At the end of the semester, all student scores will be normalized to the highest student in the class. For example, if the top student received 93% of the total points available, then all students' scores will be divided by 0.93. Once normalized, grades will be distributed according to the following scale: 












The instructor reserves the right to lower the scale (thus improving student grades) and to reevaluate the scores of students who just miss a grade.  All grades are final and are not open to discussion.  As with all classes, the best way to ensure a good grade is to actively participate in class, learn the material, turn in homework on time, work hard on the project and study for the exams. 


There are 10 homework assignments. The two lowest homework scores will be ignored. The remaining 8 are each worth 3% of the overall class score. Homework assignments will be a combination of problems from the textbook, special problems, and design problems requiring Aspen, Promax or other process design software.

Homework must look professional, consistent with something you would send to a colleague or division of a company. Answers must be clearly marked, for example with a box, and the assignment should have enough information for the grader to understand how you approached and solved it.

All homework is to be submitted through Canvas, uploaded as a single PDF file. Associated Excel, Aspen or Promax files should be uploaded as appropriate, named clearly and referred to in the main PDF document. However, the grader will base the grade on the PDF document only.  It should not be necessary for the grader to open other files. Homework must be uploaded and submitted before 11 PM on the day it is due. The submission site will close at 11 PM on the day homework is due.

Students should be able to independently set up, solve, and explain solutions all problems. Students are encouraged to discuss with other students about how to approach and solve the homework problems and develop process models. Although collaboration is encouraged, each student must perform his/her own work and submit a unique, individual memo report. No points will be given to students whose assignment submissions mirror those of other students.


There will be 5 exams, each worth 10% of the overall grade. Exams will be 50 minutes long and must be taken during the class meeting time (9:40-10:30 am). Students will take the exams in their own study area (e.g. home) and will upload solutions electronically. Several alternatives for providing solutions will be provided. Exams must be submitted (successfully uploaded) by 10:30 AM, so students must factor in time required to scan and send solutions. The tests will be relatively short and should be able to be completed in 30 minutes or so.

To receive full credit for solutions to calculation problems, students must explain the approach used, state assumptions and show all work. The instructor reserves the right to fail a student that does not receive at least 50% of the maximum possible score on every test.

It is expected that all students will be available during exam time. Make-up exams are given only in very exceptional circumstances.

There is no final exam for this course. Instead, there is a final project.


The final assignment of the course is a project that involves tying everything learned in the class together. Students will be expected to choose, spec, size, design and cost key equipment for a simple chemical process, and to prepare a professional design report that includes capital costs for the plant.


By the end of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Create and interpret process flow diagrams
  2. Understand piping and instrumentation diagrams (P&IDs)
  3. Set up and solve basic simulations of chemical processes
  4. Estimate installed costs for major process equipment
  5. Estimate operating costs for chemical plants
  6. Evaluate project economics for chemical processing plants
  7. Select and size pumps and compressors
  8. Choose appropriate designs and sizing of heat exchangers
  9. Determine appropriate designs for chemical reactors
  10. Design separators, including distillation columns
  11. Design pressure vessels
  12. Select appropriate metallurgy and sizes for pipes


Although this class is entirely online, students are reminded of the following:

  • Face masks are required at all times in all areas of all university buildings. The one exception is individuals in private offices with the door closed.
  • Practice appropriate personal hygiene:  wash hands often, use hand sanitizer, clean desks with disinfecting wipes, etc.
  • If you have on-campus classes or other obligations, stay home if you feel the slightest bit sick.
  • If students test positive for COVID-19, they must self-report using the online form available through


Academic misconduct such as cheating on tests, copying homework solutions, plagiarism and misrepresenting work performed is not tolerated. All instances of academic misconduct will be handled in accordance with the Student Code ( 


The University of Utah seeks to provide equal access to its programs, services and activities for people with disabilities. If you will need accommodations in the class, reasonable prior notice needs to be given to the Center for Disability Services, 162 Union Building, 581-5020. CDS will work with you and the instructor to make arrangements for accommodations. All written information in this course can be made available in an alternative format with prior notification to the Center for Disability Services.


The University of Utah values the safety of all campus community members. To report suspicious activity or to request a courtesy escort, call campus police at 801-585-COPS (801-585-2677). You will receive important emergency alerts and safety messages regarding campus safety via text message. For more information regarding safety and to view available training resources, including helpful videos, visit


Title IX makes it clear that violence and harassment based on sex and gender (which includes sexual orientation and gender identity/expression) is a Civil Rights offense subject to the same kinds of accountability and the same kinds of support applied to offenses against other protected categories such as race, national origin, color, religion, age, status as a person with a disability, veteran’s status or genetic information. If you or someone you know has been harassed or assaulted, you are encouraged to report it to the Title IX Coordinator in the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, 135 Park Building, 801-581-8365, or the Office of the Dean of Students, 270 Union Building, 801-581-7066. For support and confidential consultation, contact the Center for Student Wellness, 426 SSB, 801-581-7776. To report to the police, contact the Department of Public Safety, 801-585-2677(COPS). 


Some of the writings, lectures or presentations in this course may include material that conflicts with the core beliefs of individuals. Please review this syllabus carefully to see if this course is one that you are committed to taking. If you have a concern, please discuss it with the instructor at your earliest convenience. 


Academic policies and guidelines from the College of Engineering, which include information about withdrawal procedures, are available online at the College of Engineering Semester Guidelines web page.


Course Summary:

Date Details Due