Chemical engineering undergraduate design projects have been static in their concept almost for a half century during which great deals of technological progress and problems have arisen from market expansion due to globalization through to changing consumer habits and demands. This has resulted in enormous commitment from the chemical process industry (CPI) in terms of efficiency, environmental impact, safety, sustainability, and flexibility. Chemical Engineering at Heriot-Watt University (ChE-HWU) has addressed this in the subtle syllabus changes through self review process and advice and guidance of the IChemE. It is no longer with us to say the need to be 'trained to design a 100 000 t y-1 ammonium sulphate plant', not if we are to realistically view the format and style of the first world chemicals manufacture in the 21st century. So, what is required of us as educators in drawing down the material from all taught modules into a meaningful project that will allow the students to draw on their knowledge and apply it to some aspect of plant complexity that will equip them for the realities of CPI of the present and future? This paper summarizes the approaches ChE-HWU made in trying to address this problem and experiences (2000-2004) in implementing the four novel principle aspects of the final year design projects. These are; foundation level competence, process/product flexibility, sustainable development, business/tender preparation. This approach has made significant contribution to modernization of the concept of chemical engineering design projects but like all new ideas it continues to go through a series of iterations. © 2006 The Institution of Chemical Engineers.
- final year design projects
- novel chemical engineering design concepts
- process design