Aspenplus Instructional Tools for Chemical Engineers
Krishnan K. Chittur
Chemical and Materials Engineering Department
University of Alabama in Huntsville
Huntsville, AL 35899
(256) 824 3596 (V), (256) 824 3596 (F)
Integrate chemical process simulation tools
across the entire chemical engineering curriculum here
at the University of Alabama in
We do not use Aspenplus anymore on our campus, but will keep these
pages here for anyone that may find these useful. We have used
ChemCAD in the senior design classes and a few of us have used
ASCEND to simulate complex processes. Clearly, these notes are old
and there are other vendors of simulation programs. One of these
days, we will update these notes also. We are also fixing the links,
many of them are broken ...
Chemical engineering seniors are currently introduced to programs
that can perform material and energy balances, phase
equilibrium calculations and equipment sizing and costing
during their final year at UAH. These programs have
a fairly steep learning curve and students are unable to
derive as good a learning experience as we can provide. Since the
objective of such programs is to help students with their
Senior Plant Design Project, it would be helpful if we can
teach the basic elements of such programs early in the
Pro II and such
come with extensive documentation both in hardcopy format and as
These manuals are useful only after the students
get some familiarity with the program itself. I am convinced
that the best way to teach these program to our student is to
write example problems, with detailed documentation, for each
of the courses in Chemical Engineering. For this project, I am
concentrating on developing instructional tools to help students
understand how to use Aspenplus in their coursework. If there
are detailed tutorial examples written for the other
simulators (other than the ones that come with the program) and
if you are willing to share,
please do contact me
Prepare a set of notes on the WWW that students can
use to start Aspenplus on UAH's Sun Workstations in the
Engineering Building. Write a series of example
problems to help students develop a basic understanding
of Aspenplus' capabilities.
During the Fall 1997 semester,
my students, worked with me to write many of the examples
you will see on the Aspenplus Examples Pages
Colette finished here Chemical Engineering requirements during
the Fall Semester, 1997 and is now working for
Simulation Sciences, in Houston, TX.
sells a simulation product called Pro II.
Colette and her team of Chemical Engineers used Aspenplus
extensively for their Capstone Design Project (The
1997 AIChE Student Design Project, they did a good job!).
another of my fine
students, wrote a module on how Aspenplus can be used
to develop a cost model for a process (Integrated
Read Kevin's Module
During the Fall 1997 Semester, with Colette Mitchell's
assistance, I ran tutorial sessions
(2 hours) on Aspenplus to
students in ChE 244 (Stoichiometry), ChE 344 (Chemical
Engineering Thermodynamics), ChE 441 (Reactor Design)
and ChE 443 (Mass Transfer Operations). Similar
sessions are planned for the Spring 1998 Semester,
I am looking for bright students who can do a
job as good as Colette Mitchell and Kevin Uptain
What did we learn?
Placing the notes and examples on the Engineering
Web Server was very convenient as a teaching tool.
Students used Netscape under
Solaris to follow the
instructions as they worked with Aspenplus.
What did the Students Learn?
I hope something! It is too early to tell what impact
this activity will have on the students. I am in the
process of collecting some feedback from some of
The revolution in computer hardware and the availability of
sophisticated software programs has changed the way
a number of schools are approaching engineering education.
Students can now tackle complex engineering problems with ease
because of Spreadsheet programs like
Lotus 123 or
Symbolic Mathematical Tools such as
and general and special purpose simulation tools.
It has been my experience that unless students are
given detailed instructions on the use of such
tools (with example problems),
they do not realize the full benefit of such tools.
Aspenplus (appears) to be have a dominant position as the
simulator used by Chemical Engineering Departments around
the country. (I have no idea actually ...)
Aspenplus has been used
by our Chemical Engineering Seniors
pursuing their Capstone Design
projects. Students were given brief instructions
on how to interact with these programs through a small set
of elementary homework problems towards the tail end of
ChE 443 (Mass Transfer Operations) and during the initial
portion of ChE 448 (Capstone Design). Students had a lot
of difficulty digesting new material taught in these
two courses along with developing an understanding of how
to use these programs well. It is clear that we must begin earlier,
as early as ChE 244 (Material Balances). Ideally, ChE 197
(Computer Methods for Chemical Engineers)
is the best place to begin such training, but we
it is not easy to do that
A significant majority of our students are
transfer students and we first see them in ChE 244.
This idea of preparing course specific notes for illustrating
the use of process simulation programs is not new. The University
of Ottawa has had such an effort for the past two years or so.
The more I look, the more I find, atleast that's what I am
has some information about
how to use Aspenplus
that will also be useful for many of
Aspen Technology has itself
started a good collection of example problems, but are not as
well documented as I would like.
Perhaps the best site to begin if you are looking for example
problems using Aspenplus is at the
University of Florida's Chemical Engineering
Department in Gainesville, Florida,
a site created and maintained by Dr. Dale Kirmse
Follow the links to see example
problems from a number of different areas in Chemical Engineering.
Naturally, the question
arises: if example problems exist, why do we need to support this
activity? What I have proposed is to target all of our courses
in our curriculum with specific example problems.
If students are provided with
the basics in training and experience with the simulator in a structured
manner, they will be in an excellent position to fully use the power of
the simulator in their senior design project. I believe that this idea
of structuring the training along with traditional instruction in the
classroom is the
unique feature of this proposal.
Visit the UAH Aspenplus Examples Page
I have started working with a FREE,
large equation based modelling system called
Carnegie Mellon University.
I am convinced that ASCEND is an excellent environment for
teaching undergraduate students how they
can develop complex process models,
debug it, get solutions and check the solutions.
I have started a separate page to describe
how we can use ASCEND in undergraduate education, with detailed
examples and code in the ASCEND language.
Visit the ASCEND Page
What does this
program allow us to do? If we know how to
model a specific
system, know the equations that can be used to describe the
system, the program provides an object oriented environment under
which we can obtain solutions to the program. The program can
solve sets of linear, non-linear equations.
LSODE has been attached to ASCEND and hence the program will
support the solution of initial value problems. The group from
Carnegie Mellon University has also developed
collocation models to allow one to do two point
boundary value models.
File translated from
On 16 Jan 2006, 21:32.