Friday, August 10, 2012

The greatest (chemical industry) show on Earth!

Have you ever visited a European city on the river with 167,000 members of industry and academia?

Welcome to ACHEMA! Every three years the city of Frankfurt hosts this week-long chemical industry show, which is so large it has its own daily newspaper. The show boasts more than 1,000 exhibitors, spread among several exhibit halls--most of which have three floors of exhibits.

Several members of the Chemstations team spent the week visiting customers, prospects, and colleagues at our booth in exhibit hall 9.

Chemstations Europe has been coordinating our presence at ACHEMA for many years. We enjoyed the opportunity to visit with our European staff, talk with existing customers, and meet with prospects. We demonstrated electrolyte flowsheets, custom rate expressions for kinetic reactor models, rigorous heat exchangers--in fact, in those five days we demonstrated most of the features of CHEMCAD to visitors who wanted to know, "Can CHEMCAD do this?"

It's common for university classes to tour the exhibit as a group; having twenty students and a professor 'stop by' for a quick demonstration is always interesting!

The culture of ACHEMA is exciting. You can't see the entire exhibition, as it's simply too large. Some vendors will have artistic displays, some have projectors, while others have functional equipment. I once saw a stainless steel forklift in the hall, with a sign that proclaimed "Entire unit can be sterilized" in several languages. Some exhibitors will even have operational process equipment in their booths.

You'll see fun attempts to lure visitors to booths, such as "free foot massage in this booth." At the end of the day, many exhibitors will start serving alcohol and snacks to their visitors and neighbors. During the week there are receptions and dinners related to the event, and several restaurants and halls that stay open late, serving excellent German beer. When you leave Frankfurt, you will remember this event for the rest of your life.

Many of the exhibitors recognize each other from previous shows; several exhibitors have the same location and neighbors in the hall. Our booth was next to Infraserv Knapsack, a longtime CHEMCAD user. They'll be co-hosting the 3rd Symposium on Computer Aided Process Optimization in Germany, February 2013 (more information).

The next ACHEMA takes place in spring of 2015, and we hope you'll stop by our booth and say hello! Of course you can also see us at other meetings, such as the AIChE Spring and National meetings each year.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Books you should own if you read this blog

Since childhood, I have been a voracious reader. In my youth I would typically read six books at the same time, during school. I'm always excited when I visit a bookstore, browse Amazon, or see a flyer for new books. At the AIChE spring and national show, I always spend time at the exhibition visiting the booksellers.

Newspapers and talk show hosts tell us which books we should read because everyone else likes them; finding good books that are relevant to chemical engineering takes a bit more searching than the metro page. I'd like to share a list of books--technical and non-technical--which I think should be read by anyone who uses CHEMCAD.

Portrait of a Chemical Engineer (As a Young Man Growing Older), by Ben Horwitz

I've had the pleasure of knowing the author for years. He's a brilliant man, and a great engineer. Horwitz follows his career from his first engineering job through time as head of engineering at a global engineering firm, and concludes during the early period of his independent consultancy. Few of us will have such a varied experience in process. Currently the book is available only from the author at his web site ( Volunteers (such as myself) will likely help convert it to Kindle format. If I were dean of a chemical engineering department, I would recommend this book to all prospective students.

Chemical Engineering in Practice--Design, Simulation, and Implementation, by John Edwards

I've been lucky enough to work with John for nearly a decade. He has vast experience in applied controls and engineering, and runs a successful engineering company. This book teaches what he feels are important concepts of applied engineering. We're flattered that he uses CHEMCAD simulations for so much of this book. If you have young engineers working in process design or modeling (or controls, or anything vaguely related to process design), I would recommend this book. Available in print from the author's web site (, or in Kindle format from Amazon.

Chemical Thermodynamics: for Process Simulation, by J. Gmehling, et al.

I'm recommending a book that I haven't even read! Gmehling is a world-renowned expert on physical properties and thermodynamics. I expect this to be a valuable reference to anyone who uses a process simulator. This book has just been released, and my copy is on order. While I haven't read the book, the reputation of the authors is enough for me to recommend it. I've known Gmehling for years; I'm confident this will be a good book. Published by Wiley, available from various resellers or directly from the publisher.

Branan's Rules of Thumb for Chemical Engineers, by Carl Branan

Ever need to guess an important number? Branan has done it already. His book gives you practical advice on how to solve many problems, and also decent guesses for numbers such as "heat transfer coefficient for this utility and this process type flow."

The Properties of Gases and Liquids, by Poling, et al.

Want to understand how simulators predict physical properties? Want to do a better job predicting properties for new chemicals that you add to a simulator? Read this book.

Product and Process Design Principles: Synthesis, Analysis and Design, by Seider, et al.
Analysis, Synthesis, and Design of Chemical Processes, by Turton, Whiting, et al.

Either of these books would be useful for a design class, or for engineers who want to teach themselves more about modeling processes with a simulator. The named authors are CHEMCAD users. We keep several copies of both books in our office.

Refinery Process Modeling, by Gerald L. Kaes

Want to learn how to model refinery operations with a process simulator? Start with this book. Kaes talks about the bases of methods that are in your simulator, such as creation of pseudocomponents from a distillation curve. He explains refinery terms (e.g., the difference between kerosene and naphtha), and discusses modeling concerns for various equipment. Good for engineers that need to learn about refining, how to model refining operations, or both.

Phase Equilibria in Chemical Engineering, by Stanley M. Walas

Want to get into the nitty-gritty math of applied thermodynamic vapor-liquid equilibria calculations? This is the book for you. It's out of print, and it's hard to find. If you have access to a copy, I would recommend that you skim through it to determine whether this is 'too technical' for you. If you don't have access to a copy, then Gmehling's book might be a better starting point, simply because it's readily available in print. If you have a spare copy of Walas' book that you'd like to sell, drop me a note.