CH E 437

Chemical Process Modeling and Control

Fall 2013

Catalog Description (2010-2011): Development of mathematical models for chemical engineering systems in terms of ordinary differential equations. Design of feedback control systems. Controller stability and tuning. A laboratory project demonstrating control principles may be included.

Student Outcomes: At the end of this course, each student should be able to:

  1. describe the practical use and operation of control elements such as controllers, actuators and sensors
  2. write differential equation and transfer function models of standard chemical process systems
  3. qualitatively describe the behavior of dynamic processes and estimate process time constants
  4. given a P & I diagram, set of equations, or block diagram, generate the others
  5. describe the basic concepts of PID control and controller tuning
  6. understand the stability of open- and closed-loop systems, with special understanding of the related safety issues.


Randel M. Price
Associate Professor, Chemical Engineering
126 Nolan Engineering Building
Phone: 321-3412

I can usually be found in or around my office from about 7:30 in the morning until about 3:30 in the afternoon. Please feel free to stop by the office as needed.

You are welcome to phone or email to arrange an appointment. Appointments are not necessary, but are nice if you think you need a sizeable block of time.

You may consult my Google Calendar to learn my schedule.


The text for this class will be:

You are encouraged to consult other texts. Among those I will probably be using are:

I may also place reference material chosen to supplement the text on reserve at the library.

The library has much material that is relevant to this course. Use it to your advantage.

Notes on the Text

If you find a misprint, etc., in the text, please let me know so that the information can be shared. At present, based on my copy, the following appear to be mistakes:

Class Policies


Generally speaking, students are encouraged to work together to understand the course material. Students are allowed to cooperate on all "regular" homework problems, unless specifically requested not to do so. All students must turn in individual assignments. Penalties will be imposed if there is evidence that students did not individually prepare their work. Some "design" homework assignments will be assigned to small groups. In these cases, please do not collaborate outside your group.

Collaboration is not permitted on any exam.


Current plans (subject to change -- your opinions are invited) are to have three to four tests during the semester. I will attempt to space them roughly equally, and will endeavor to give you at least one week's firm advance notice of each. A test will typically consist of one or two problems.

All regular exams will be open-book, open-note. The final examination will be open-book only -- notes and other unpublished materials will not be permitted.

No make-up exams will be given without advance arrangements (made before the day of the exam).

Collaboration is not permitted on any exam.

My goal for an exam problem is for the student to prove they know how to apply their knowledge to an unfamiliar situation. By contrast, homework is intended to exercise more basic skills. This means that test problems will not be "like the homework". Be warned.

Exam Tips

If you are really interested in maximizing your exam score, keep in mind that if I don't understand what you're doing, you probably won't get all the points you may have earned. Also remember that I'm usually matching your paper against a solution of my own, so you want the similarities to jump out at me while any differences hide under a bushel.

With this in mind, be sure to


A project examining process instrumentation will be assigned. This will require independent research, preparation of a study guide, and will conclude with a quiz.


Grades will be determined by student performance on graded homework asssignments, examinations, and a comprehensive final examination. The components of the grade will be weighted so that:

The target grading curve will be determined by a 90, 75, 60, 50 scale. The grades actually assigned may be adjusted to reflect overall class performance (the class average score), using natural breaks in the score distribution. The class average score will typically correspond to a "C" grade. "Ghost" students are not included in the calculation of class averages and grade breaks. Adjustments will never raise a cutoff.

This grading scale does not apply to those students who fail to achieve at least 35% on the final exam. In such cases, an appropriate grade will be determined without strict reliance on the scale.

All students should be aware that performance on the final is very important, and that qualitative weight is given to work at the end of the semester over that at the beginning.


The best way to acquire the skills this course seeks to teach is practice. Homework assignments are the best opportunity to do so. Students are encouraged to work as many homework problems as they can in order to improve their knowledge.

Homework will be assigned frequently.

Homework is due by the beginning of class on the designated due date unless other instructions are given at the time of the assignment. Waiting too late to start is never an acceptable reason for being late. Late homework is not accepted unless arrangements are made in advance of the deadline.

All homework assignments must meet the following requirements. Assignments which do not comply will not be graded.

Late Assignments

NOTHING will be accepted late unless arrangements were made prior to the due date. If a student is to be out of town, the instructor must be notified in advance. In case of illness, the instructor should be notified before the assignment becomes late, either by phone (901)321-3412 or email.

Makeup exams will only be given under extraordinary circumstances, and only if arrangements are made before the exam period.

Extra Credit

There are two ways to earn "extra credit" or "bonus" points. These are added to your point totals but don't add to the "possible" points. Your options are:

  1. Design Your Own Test Problems for credit applicable to your test total. A maximum of three problems may be submitted with deadlines falling on the class period closest to and following September 15, October 15, and November 15.
  2. Participate in recognized professional development activities (plant trips, non-required technical lectures, etc.) for credit applicable to your final exam total. I plan to award 2 pts. for the first two acceptable (approved in advance) events and one point thereafter. I also reserve the right to limit the total points awarded to any individual. Most "technical" events sponsored by AIChE are automatically acceptable; provided that attendance is optional. Events sponsored by other engineering groups usually count, but should be cleared in advance if you want the credit.

Lecture Notes

Outlines of the following lectures are available on the web. Please let me know if you have problems downloading or viewing these.

Related Links

These are links that you might find helpful as you study for this class. If you find any of them particularly useful (or especially useless), or if you want to suggest an addition to the list, please email and let me know.

  1. none

Last Revised:7 July 2011 by RMP

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