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Developing an Industrial Chemical Process. An Integrated Approach. By Joseph Mizrahi

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Developing an Industrial Chemical
An Integrated
Approach. By
Joseph Mizrahi. CRC
Press, Boca Raton,
FL 2003. 248 pp.,
$ 139.95.—ISBN
This book raises puzzling questions: why
such a slim volume—only 236 pages of
text including the preliminaries—for
this of all subjects? And why in this
form? The author seems to have anticipated that reaction, and in the preface
he himself asks the question “Why is
such a book needed at all?” His not
very convincing answer is that, for too
many beginners, the business of planning, developing, and implementing
chemical processes has to be learned
“on the job” through trial and error, a
way of learning that is not very efficient
or effective. Of course, one can express
such doubts about any newly published
scientific or technical book. Does this
book at least provide what its title promises?
The contents are divided into chapters dealing with various stages of process development in sequence. These
include: searching for new processes,
starting the development of a new process, the resources needed for development, the preceding implementation,
definition and feasibility studies, the
experimental program, the preliminary
process design, economic analysis, the
working program toward a first implementation, the plant construction
Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2004, 43, 3099 – 3101
period, process start-up, consideration
of the new know-how, and the contents
of a process package. In this field,
where English-language terminology
predominates, no readers will have
problems with definitions, whatever
their first language is, but on the other
hand there are logical inconsistencies
in many places. For example, the expression “new product” is open to widely
different interpretations, which can
include simply a variation to an existing
process, perhaps giving a purer product,
or using a cheaper technology or a different feedstock. On the other hand,
the chapters concerned with products
that are completely new to a company,
with newly available technologies, or
with new directions for new products,
broaden the horizon considerably, and
suggest unconventional strategies and
ways of working that were previously
outside the focus of a manufacturer's
own processes. Against that background, it is difficult to understand
why a chapter on “actual case examples” has been put before the chapter
on “defining the process”, and why it
only includes examples from a comparatively narrow and specialized area of
inorganic chemistry. However, these
examples are described in great detail,
and include data (e.g., on material consumption and throughput) to a precision
of three decimal places. Such details are
not needed in all parts of the book, and
in view of its limited size and the amount
of material that is to be covered, they
certainly should not be included.
These special features of the book
are perhaps a consequence of the
author's personal experiences and interests, which are summarized in a onepage biographical note at the beginning.
This account is quite comprehensive,
covering everything except the shape
of the author's ears, his hat size, and
his blood group. From this curriculum
vitae one can find the background
details that explain the book's strengths.
In particular, there is the wealth of experience in various positions in chemical
research and development, in chemical
engineering, in process evaluation, in
the introduction of new processes, in
troubleshooting, etc. Sometimes this
broad experience leads the author to
indulge in chatty reminiscence, which
results in an unbalanced emphasis on
some topics at the expense of others;
for example, the process block diagram
and the crystallization of inorganic
products are evidently favorite topics
and are given too much attention,
whereas patenting and the preparation
of reports are relatively neglected.
On the whole, I regard this book as a
useful checklist on the long journey
from an initial idea for a product or
process to the start-up of the plant that
finally emerges. Personal and proven
methods of working, characteristics of
particular areas of chemical industry,
and the requirements that apply to certain product types or organizations, are
too complex to provide a basis for guiding the reader through all the various
ways of achieving the “integrated
approach” that is always aimed for.
However, Mizrahi's book should help
to ensure that one does not forget any
important stage of the development.
That will be appreciated by everyone
who has ever found that the failure to
consider the effects of corrosion in a
continuously operating plant can be a
disaster for the chemist who carried
out the laboratory-scale development.
Boy Cornils
Hofheim/Taunus (Germany)
DOI: 10.1002/anie.200385145
Introduction to Cluster Dynamics
By Paul-Gerhard
Reinhard and Eric
Suraud. Wiley-VCH,
Weinheim 2003.
327 pp., hardcover
E 119.00.—ISBN
Cluster dynamics is a hot research topic,
and also an important basis for the
growing field of nanotechnology. Therefore, a good treatise on this area was
overdue. However, this book is much
more than just that: it also offers a
broad introduction to clusters in gen-
6 2004 Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim
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integrated, process, chemical, approach, developing, industries, joseph, mizrahi
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