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Bolton Society Symposia: 2008 August

Named for Henry Carrington Bolton, the Bolton Society encourages and promotes the individual love for and collection of all types of printed material devoted to chemistry and related sciences.

Classic Books in Chemistry V: Chemical Engineering

Organizer, Presiding: James J. Bohning

F.H. Thorp's Outlines of Industrial Chemistry / Gary D. Patterson

Industrial chemistry has existed for millenia. Artisans have discovered specific recipes for the production of chemicals useful to humankind. Mostly, these recipes have either been kept as trade secrets or were merely collated as isolated artifacts. The perspective of Outlines of Industrial Chemistry by Frank Hall Thorp is that there are general principles that help to bring a more global character to the study of the practice of actual chemical manufacture. Thorp was inspired by the work of Lewis Mills Norton of MIT and followed him as Professor of Industrial Chemistry. There are many mechanical and thermal processes that are common to industrial practice. A thorough understanding of the operations of chemical manufacture provides a sound basis for the detailed consideration of specific substances. The total picture is presented from raw materials to primary product and important side products. Inorganic materials, organic materials and metals are treated in the context of actual industrial practice. The synoptic perspective developed in this landmark book became the hallmark of the emerging field of chemical engineering.

George E. Davis: A voice crying in the Midlands / Mary Ellen Bowden

Englishman George E. Davis is generally credited with initiating the concept of chemical engineering. After at least twenty years in the chemical industry, in 1887 Davis gave a series of twelve lectures at the Manchester School of Technology, which formed the basis of his Handbook of Chemical Engineering (1901)—really a textbook and the first of its kind. There were already industrial chemistry books written for each chemical industry, but Davis organized his text by the basic operations common to many industries––later to be called “unit operations” by the American Arthur D. Little. The context in which Davis operated may help explain why his ideas found a more receptive audience in the United States than in England.

Principles of Chemical Engineering by William H. Walker, Warren K. Lewis, and William H. McAdams / Ron Reynolds

The term Unit Operations was first coined by Arthur D. Little in 1915. The concept rapidly became an organizing principle to teach Chemical Engineering at an expanding number of university departments. The first edition appeared in 1923. Earlier texts had been organized by industry and were heavily oriented towards describing equipment used in the various industries. This text defined general or common physical operations that could then be considered the building blocks to design processes for a wide variety of applications. Each operation was linked to its underlying scientific principles. Later editions in 1927 and particularly 1937 addressed chemical transformations via chapters on reaction equilibria and reaction kinetics. After this landmark text, many authors developed books to address each unit operation in greater detail. The presentation also discusses evolving quantitative methods for equipment design in chemical engineering's early decades.

Transport Phenomena: Success story in perspective / Barry L. Tarmy

Bird, Stuart and Lightfoot's demonstratively successful Transport Phenomena was considered with some reservation a shift in chemical engineering thought and practice. In hindsight, its introduction in the late 1950's was optimal, having arrived midway between the introduction of the “Unit Operations” approach to chemical processing in the early 1900's and the coupling of chemistry and physics with engineering's technology and practices in the late 1900's and early 2000's. In addition to presenting some background on the authors, this presentation discusses chemical engineering's evolution from its “Unit Operations” processing base to the addition of the transport phenomena emphasis and then to more descriptive modeling and simulation of systems ranging in size from the industrial down to the micro-scale. With these advances has come increasing roles for chemical engineering in handling society's concerns with energy, health and the environment.

Perry's heavyweight handbook for chemical engineers / D. H. Michael Bowen

The discipline and profession of chemical engineering had already been going concerns for more than 30 years when the McGraw-Hill Book Co. published in 1934 the first edition of what was to become one of its all-time blockbuster sellers:Chemical Engineers Handbook. Written by a bevy of top engineers, most of them industrial, and edited initially by John H. Perry and later by his son Robert H. Perry and Cecil H. Chilton, the handbook became a “must have” reference tool for chemical and mechanical engineers. Edited by Don W. Green and currently in its 8th edition, it defies the increasing specialization of technology by covering its subject “from soup to nuts.” Who in 2008 wants or needs all this knowledge is another matter. The author will cover this amazing book and its long history from a personal perspective.

My name is not Kirk Othmer: Brooklyn Poly, Interscience, and the Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology / James J. Bohning

Conceived by Donald Othmer and Raymond Kirk during World War II as a replacement for the German Enzyklopädie der Technischen Chemie first published by Fritz Ullman in 1914, the Enyclopedia of Chemical Technology did not appear until 1947 with the first volume, A to Anthrimides. As Othmer explained, “We really looked at it as more of a total public service to our profession than an occupation for any kind of gain.” Sixty years later, the “Kirk-Othmer,” (as it is often called and is now part of the title), is in its fifth print edition of 27 volumes and is available on-line where updates are made on a regular basis. As one reviewer proclaimed, “No library claiming to be a useful resource for chemical engineering professionals should be without it.”

The Process Engineers Pocket Handbook and other guides / Frankie Wood-Black

What does it mean to be a classic? For some it is one that every one in a specific discipline has some connection with, a link or shared memory. For others, it means that is the book that one can take off the shelf and refer to over and over again throughout their careers. This paper will focus on the second type, and provide a look at The Process Engineer's Pocket Handbook and other "Rules of Thumb" edited by C.R. Branan.