The process design of chemical processes may be divided into
two broad phases: one, a synthesis phase, is all activities
associated with the selection of the process route or configuration
together with the selection of the type of process units required for
a given processing function; the other is an analysis phase
in which the design and optimisation of each unit within a given
configuration or process scheme is established.
Historically, the discipline of chemical engineering has
been concerned primarily with the analysis phase of process design;
in that it pioneered the concept of breaking down processes into
unique processing steps or 'unit operations'. Most of these unit
operations have now been developed to a very high degree of
sophistication. However, the synthesis phase has not received the
same degree of attention. For example, the selection of the optimal
process route for a given process function from among a number of
possible process routes has been made to a certain extent upon the
process designer's experience and/or intuition, there being no
formal techniques available to assist in the selection.
Process synthesis has been regarded more or less as an art
and consequently it has received very little attention in chemical
engineering research. [Continues.]
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy at Loughborough University.