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Careers, environment rate high at Chemical Engineering conference.

The Progress Through Innovation theme of the 42nd Canadian Chemical Engineering Conference was in ample evidence at the sessions which covered a wide range of topics from industrial and academic eyes

One of the pressing needs of the Canadian Society for Chemical Engineering (CSChE) is to reverse the tide of its declining membership roles.

New CSChE president Michael Avedesian has said that one of his main tasks will be membership recruitment. Without a doubt, one of the best places to start is with students. Attract them into the society when they're still at school and retain their interest with high quality programs.

That being said, it must have been heartening for the CSChE executive to see so many student delegates, almost 300, from across Canada attending the 42nd Canadian Chemical Engineering Conference held in Toronto in October.

Students -- and all other delegates -- were able to choose from 54 technical sessions and numerous keynote addresses during the full three-day conference.

The first invited plenary speaker was Dale E. Seborg, University of California in Santa Barbara. The Prospects for Advanced Process Control looked at the developments that chemical engineers can expect. Already, Seborg noted, many large chemical plants have gone through three or four generations of computer control systems.

In recent years, changing markets, increased global competition and a "quality revolution", not to mention a depressed economy, have meant few mega-projects being started. But because of the changes mentioned, improving the position of existing plants has meant that improved process control or optimization continues to be of great importance.

Seborg discussed some advanced control methods such as adaptive control, expert systems, nonlinear control, neurocontrollers and fuzzy control. Nonlinear control systems have had no effect yet but Seborg said their time may come in the next five to 10 years.

For adaptive control systems to have a significant effect in industry, they must be robust -- able to ride out a variety of conditions -- and they must be user-friendly, i.e., able to be used by people with average training and experience. Seborg said that nonlinear systems could be the weave of the future. It is a very new area that is developing rapidly. Robustness is a key issue.

Nobody needs you

A career discussion for students was one of the first sessions scheduled. Joseph Paridi is director and professor, Centre for Management of Technology and Entrepreneurship, University of Toronto. He is also an extremely successful entrepreneur. He returned to serve the university in appreciation of the education he received there.

He said that the key to success is not to make a plan but to grab the opportunities when they arise. He told students bluntly: "Nobody needs you."

Paridi called engineering the "best educational foundation for anything you want to do." Paridi's business centered on information technology. "We used engineering approaches to solve customer problems. We accepted change as a fundamental part of business. We insisted on excellence in everything."

In 20 years, Paridi noted that the business (information technology) was transformed four times. It started out as time sharing, moved into package processing. From there it evolved into network based services and finally into a real time date online network.

He asked students to ask themselves a number of questions: Do you want to retire from the first or second company you work for? Do you have constraints on where you live? Will you move to the opportunity? Have you contemplated foreign countries as a place to live? Do you feel you will need more education? "It's sad that many come back to school only because they couldn't find a job," he added.

Factors to success, according to Paridi, are persistence and determination, flexibility, sensitivity to people and the environment, intra/entrepreneurial attitude. How to get there? Get experience, but not too much -- two to three years; learn about financing; understand something about legal issues; be marketing/sales oriented; consider an MBA after obtaining some work experience. "It's the best route to the corporate life and its 'security'," Paridi explained, "but it is not especially beneficial if you want to be an entrepreneur."

He concluded by saying the failure:success ratio is 7:1 and the personal sacrifices are considerable, but that the rewards, not only financial, are outstanding.

Unfortunately, some of the scheduled speakers at this session were forced to cancel (a problem which plagued some of the sessions at the conference), but Michael Williams, University of Alberta, did an admirable job filling in on extremely short notice.

Williams advised students to study broadly; "Fringe areas become the mainstream." He noted that the education process should never stop. "Continue your education through your employer or try grad school. Stopping at a BSc will render you obsolete in 10 years."

Students should not sell themselves short. "Maximize your potential," Williams stressed. "You are a high value-added product."

Williams' area of expertise is plastics and he said that polymers seem to be a recession-proof industry.

The session on Advances in Energy Systems focused on fluidized beds. W.C. Verloop, Delft University, Netherlands, discussed the experimental program carried out to gain insight into the dispersion of particles in the freeboard in a pressurized fluidized bed combustor (PFBC). Adding nitrogen to flow sampled from the freeboard has three advantages: it enhances the flow; it enhances the chemical reaction; it serves as a tool for control of the sample temperature which should not fall below 140 to 150|degrees~C.

Marc Rosen, Ryerson, described Exergy Analysis of a Pressurized Fluid-Bed Combustion Process for Generating Electricity from Coal. Useful insights are gained when supplying exergy analysis to new technology, particularly new technology that has not been applied widely. The analysis can assist in the design and optimization of a PFBC power plant.

M.F. Couturier, UNB, described the Reactivation of Spent CFB Limestones by Hydration. Limestone is used to capture S|O.sub.2~ in the form of calcium sulphate. It is a two-stage process. The conversion of calcium to calcium sulphate is less than 50% in CFB combustors.

Hydration is one method to reactivate the spent material from CFBC. The objective of the study was to see if it was feasible to reactivate spent bed material. There are two phases. The first was carried out in an experimental apparatus. The second is the design of an industrial-scale combustor. UNB is working with the combustor in Chatham, NB.

Tests showed that hydrated sample had a conversion rate of 80% after four hours. However, to get large conversions, you need large residence time, which is not possible.

Couturier is working on two preliminary designs -- a plug flow system and a backmix system. Best scenarios show savings of $110 to $1500 per day. However, this is best case and it assumes no fragmentation. If fragmentation is taken into account, about 60% of the limestone is lost to the baghouse. This means savings of only 20% of the best case figures.

It is hoped to test the techniques at a pilot scale unit. The question is whether hydration will decrease the strength of the particles thereby increasing fragmentation and lowering possible savings further.

Franco Berutti spoke about gave a The Hydrodynamics of the Internally Circulating Fluidized Bed at High Temperature. Spouted beds can be unstable at high temperature. The internally circulating fluidized bed has many of the advantages of the spouted bed and is stable at high temperatures. Berutti's study found the ICFB to be stable over all test temperatures. It is suitable for high-temperature, short-contact time reactions such as hydrocarbons pyrolysis.

A European perspective

Goquin Calvo, director of the board of directors, technical cabinet, Grupo Endesa, Spain, was the featured plenary speaker on the second day. Endesa is Spain's largest electric utility and coal producer and the fourth largest utility in Europe. Calvo filled in for Endesa president Feliciano Fuster who was unable to attend.

His topic was Electric Power in the European Energy Market of the Year 2000. Calvo divided Europe into four sectors: CIS (formerly the Soviet Union), other eastern European states, the European Common Market, and the 12 free trade states such as Austria and Sweden. Per capita demand for power in Europe is 51% (personal) of that in North America; European industry demand is only 43%.

Coal and hydro make up most the electrical generating capacity in North America. The Europeans rely more heavily on nuclear power.

It is expected that electrical demand will increase 2.2% annually. Factors for growth include new uses for electricity and relatively stable prices. The negatives include a saturation of electrical appliances and heavy-use industries are not growing.

Calvo noted that new power plants should be qualified as the "cleanest and safest industries to be socially acceptable." This is in response to environmental awareness and legislation, or, as one of his slides put it, "indiscriminate repulsion to new facilities."

Calvo said that Endesa is implementing energy conservation methods. Technology involving gasification and combined cycle technologies have increased possibilities. They are clean and economical.

The utility is also studying the cleaner and more efficient use of coal. Spanish coal tends to be low rank. In conjunction with five other European utilities, Endesa is building a 335-MW integrated coal gasification combined cycle pilot plant. It will feature high-temperature burning, high efficiency, fuel flexibility (able to receive all ranks and sizes of as-received coal), a one-unit gasifier. Scheduled commissioning is March 1996.

Odorous, toxic and corrosive

These days, any technical conference of thus type usually features several sessions on the environment. This one was no different. One of the Tuesday morning sessions dealt with the Environment - Bioremediation.

J. Lanting, Biothane Corp., discussed a Biological Process for Reducing the Concentration of Hydrogen Sulfide in Biogas. Hydrogen sulfide is odorous, toxic, corrosive and combustible. Lanting concentrated on Biothane's Biopuric process. It is based on sulfur oxidizing bacteria. The bacteria convert hydrogen sulfide to elemental sulfur and sulfate thereby cleaning the biogas.

The process has been used at eight German installations and removal efficiencies range from 85 to 98%.

Mark Siegel, Waterloo, described waste water treatment efficiency using air lift reactors. These reactors are gas-liquid contacting devices. Fluids circulate in the reactor in a clear and defined cyclic pattern through channels designed for that purpose.

A major feature is the reactor's large oxygen transfer abilities that easily meet biomass oxygen demand. There is a mean COD removal efficiency of 99.6%, with 97% achieved within two hours. Despite early fears, there were no foaming problems.

Steve Bessada, Gore & Storrie Ltd., explained the Anaerobic Treatment of Sanitary Landfill Leachate. The site was a Guelph, ON, landfill that had a leachate collection system. The leachate was very strong (CBO|D.sub.5~ concentration of 8,300 mg/L and average COD of 12,700 mg/L).

The work involved using a HYAN anaerobic reactor. Anaerobic treatment was used first instead of going directly to aerobic treatment because: the hulk of the treatment could be done in the reactor; costs and nutrient needs are lower; methane can be captured which can then be used as heating fuel; there is less sludge; the reactor has a compact structure; energy use is lower.

It was found that a leachate treatment process using a pH adjustment, anaerobic treatment and aerobic polishing can produce effluent meeting Guelph's sewer use bylaw levels.

Cement is useful for more than construction

Another environment session, this one devoted to hazardous wastes, was held in the afternoon. The Use of Cement Kiln Technology for the Destruction of Wastes was the title of an interesting presentation by C.W. Coles, St. Lawrence Cement. The suburban Toronto plant produces the powder that is sold to cement makers. Extremely high temperatures, up to 2150|degrees~C, are needed.

Coles said there is an advantage to using a cement kiln to burn wastes. It is extremely high-temperature; there is a long retention time at high temperature; there is no ash because it becomes part of the crystal structure; there is, in effect, limestone scrubbing of the exhaust gases.

Finally, refuse derived fuel in the kiln will not significantly affect the kiln stack component emissions. They are well within Ontario ministry of the environment standards.

However, despite this and the fact the technology was developed in Canada, it is not used in Canada. "The Ontario government has gone in other ways," Coles said. There is no burning. For example, old tires, which could be burned, are being recycled to crumb rubber or hockey pucks, or stored.

"The technical evidence is there," Coles stressed. "It is used in Europe. Decisions must be made on a sound technical basis, rather than on a political one. And, as technical people, it behooves us to get involved."

Fathi Habashi, Laval University, described the Advances in Asbestos Science. This much maligned resource faces two major problems -- residues and toxicity.

Asbestos is only present to the extent of 5% in its deposits. This means that for every five tone of asbestos there are 95 tons of waste. Studies have shown some possible uses for the residue -- foundry sand, mineral wools, nickel, as a source of magnesium and its compounds.

As for its toxicity, this is well known; it is a carcinogen. Habashi said preliminary work has been done to reduce its toxicity by treating it with chelating organic dyes. The work had shown some promising results, but the project has stopped due to lack of funds.

Keith Winterhalder, Laurentian University, discussed work to Crevegetate a 275-h|a.sup.2~ site near Timmins, ON, a former copper-zinc mine. The ground was barren because it was so toxic from the mine tailings.

It was found that a gravel layer covered by loam worked best. Many species of grass and two clovers did well on this. Transplanted bog sods were also tried, but cost would be prohibitive on a large scale.

Revegetating will only solve a small percentage of acid mine drainage. There is still the problem of seepage. Winterhalder said other solutions are being studied. For example, pumping the residues to an aerobic wetland by putting it through an alkalinity treatment (e.g., mushroom compost material) first.

Taking care of business

Turning away from the purely technical side of things, a session on Wednesday morning was devoted to the business aspects of chemical engineering: The Chemical Industry Goes International.

The keynote address was given by R. Collette, External Affairs and International Trade Canada -- Trade, Investment and Technology Between Canada and Western Europe. Western Europe is Canada's second largest trading partner, after the U.S., accounting for 10% of our exports and about 15% of all imports. Despite the recession, there has only been a small drop in trade since 1990 but early figures for 1992 show a surge in imports and exports.

Europe accounts for 40% of the world's trade, Collette noted. "It is the world's largest import market and an important source of new technology."

Going the other way, Western Europe has invested $34 billion in Canada. What can External Affairs do? It schedules numerous seminars in Canada explaining the importance of western Europe. It can foster strategic alliances. It sponsors several seminars in Europe promoting Canadian capabilities.

Collette said that Canadian companies are doing especially well in software products. Canada is still a major supplier of resource-based materials such as forest products, metals and bulk minerals.

Among the fields targeted by External Affairs for specific programs are optoelectronics, biotechnology, biomedical products, artificial intelligence, food packaging and wastewater treatment.

Collette provided a thumbnail sketch of one particular country -- Spain. It has the largest available pool of trained labor and offers generous incentives. Spain is one of Canada's fastest growing markets in Europe. Trade with Spain has doubled since 1985, reaching $750 million. Resources, construction materials, advanced technology and military equipment are strong markets for Canada.

Canadian interests in Spain total $331, Collette added. This will grow much higher as a result of a Northern Telecom project. Lawson Mardon is spending $65 million to purchase a Spanish packaging company. Going the other way, A Spanish firm has invested heavily on a new petroleum plant in Canada.

Chemical production in Spain is valued at $55 billion annually. Imports are taking over from local production, according to Collette.

"No matter the line of business, particularly for small and medium sized enterprises, western Europe offers opportunities in all business areas," Collette said.

Andrea Borruso, Alberta Energy Co., provided an interesting look at Joint Venturing Overseas: How to Start Yours. He advised delegates that it can be difficult. There are some fundamental rules to follow. Know thoroughly what each partner's contributions and roles are; make sure there is a balanced interest; provide a good paper agreement. There must be trust and cultural affinity.

The paper agreement must be thorough with all things spelled out -- future expansion, divestiture, buy-out procedures; failures, ongoing decisions, mechanisms to solve conflicts, control.

Among the possible reasons for joint venturing: economies of scale, capital sharing, overcoming entry barriers, partnering synergism, risk trade-off.

Borruso advised that when starting negotiations for a joint venture, it is important to mitigate "management's" impatience. Define the corporate goals. Set the strategy and course. Conduct market and business intelligence. Map possible candidates.

Some of the needs to be met are: multi-cultural acceptance; market and business acceptance; economic/financial analysis; international tax and legal expertise; international market and business expertise; funds; time.

Borruso said the federal external affairs department was a valuable ally and to use it.

Returning to Canada, R. Hargreaves, CANMET Mineral Sciences Laboratories, spoke about Commercializing Technology from Government Laboratories -- Opportunities and Pitfalls. Federal investment in science and technology reached $5.5 billion in 1991; R&D accounted for $2.8 billion of that.

There are three types of federal science and technology alliances: R&D partnerships, the most common type; licenses; spin-out companies. Hargreaves gave examples of all three.

MEND stands for Mine Environmental Neutral Drainage and is an R&D partnership between CANMET, Environment Canada, the provinces and the Mining Association of Canada. A second R&D partnership deals with membrane technology in the pulp and paper industry. Participants include Abitibi-Price, SNC, the National Research Council, Environment Canada and Paprican.

A third project involves Beaver Dental and CANMET. This dealt with improving the metallurgy for dental bits. The project has been completed and Beaver Dental has had success in export markets.

There are 302 licensing agreements in force, Hargreaves said. The range of technology is diverse "all over the map". Examples include ferric chloride leaching technology for complex sulfide ores. Nova Gold is the participant and a 500-t/d pilot plant has been designed.

A second involves a carbon sensor for car exhaust filters. The partner is Riken, a Japanese company. The project is in field studies now. Hargreaves noted that a Canadian partner could not be found so a "lucrative" deal with Riken was signed.

Spin-out companies include Bubble Technology Industries. It was launched in 1987 in Chalk River, ON, and has 16 employees. It produces radiation detectors using a passive chemical system.

AECL spun out its eddy current expertise to create a new division of Westinghouse in 1992. It manufactures probes for the nondestructive inspection and maintenance of Canadian nuclear power reactors.

G. Strachan, Allelix Biopharmaceuticals, provided a detailed look at International Business Opportunities in Biopharmaceuticals. Strachan said that we are now unravelling the secrets of the genetic code. Biotechnology affects pharmaceuticals most obviously, but other industries such as agriculture as well.

There are now 14 products that use DNA or all fusion technology. In 1990 sales of these pharmaceuticals reached $2.4 billion; in 1992 sales are estimated to reach $4 billion. By 1995, $6 billion in sales are expected. "It is only the tip of the iceberg," Strachan said.

Biotechnology is a young industry that is scientifically driven. New biotech forms are still the driving force behind innovations but the established companies are an increasingly important part of the industry.

Commercialization of a new product is lengthy and expensive. Strachan said it takes eight to 12 years from the lab to commercialization and is a multi-million dollar procedure.

Financing is critical as this is a capital-intensive industry. There is intense competition and a high degree of uncertainty. It is a global market with global competition. The U.S., where it all started, is still the leader.

Strachan described some of the strengths of the Canadian industry: a well-developed science infrastructure; strong government commitments; efficient and well-organized health care system; good government: industry co-operation.

Some of the shortcomings include small and fragmented companies that lack a critical mass. They tend to be undercapitalized and need to access the global market. Strachan named the four Canadian public biopharmaceutical companies -- Biochem Pharma, Allelix, Congene and Biomira. There are also about 20 to 25 smaller one (fewer than 20 employees) as well as the Canadian subsidiaries of large U.S. companies.

He also addressed the advantages of strategic alliances in biotechnology. These include financing, the major underlying reason for an alliance; credibility; complementary expertise; technical cross-fertilization; overall synergy.

Strachan gave his own company's example. Allelix has alliances with Glaxo, Eli Lilly and Nordion Radiopharmaceuticals. The Allelix-Glaxo project is aimed at bone disorders and diseases. Glaxo funds the programs -- over $10 million to date -- and has exclusive marketing rights. Allelix manufacturers, collects royalties and retains the technical rights.

Some of the issues on the horizon for Canadian biotechnology:

* Tax incentives need to be improved.

* Basic science teaching needs to be strengthened.

* Capital sources need to be found.

* Technology transfer needs to be improved.

David Younger, Ensyn Technologies, described RTP Technology: Development and Commercialization. RTP (rapid thermal processing) is a Canadian technology first developed at the University of Western Ontario. Ensyn, an Ottawa area company, was formed to develop the process. RTP is a thermal cracking process. It features an extremely fast heat rise and short, controlled uniform contact times.

Ensyn has completed three reactors, mostly for R&D purposes, but there are commercial applications in the U.S. The U.S. licensee will soon receive a 25-t/d plant. Younger said that an Italian concern is seriously studying the RTP process for turning sorghum into oil for energy generation, "purpose grown biomass".

As the conference drew to a close, organizers could look back with a fair degree of satisfaction. -- a good mix of papers, a large turn-out of students and the added bonus of staying in the hotel that was World Series headquarters for the Atlanta Braves baseball team.

The 43rd Canadian Chemical Engineering Conference will be held in Ottawa. See the November/December 1992 issue of ACCN for more details.

Scientists, Engineers Need to Be Involved in Waste Disposal Studies

Unfortunately, the first paper scheduled in the Industrial Health and Safety session was withdrawn. The first paper presented was on risk standards for chemical exposures, and was given by Bob Willis, Cantox Inc. Willis presented an outline of risk assessment in terms of assessment of both hazard and exposure. This dual approach to risk assessment highlighted the need for consideration and involvement of the receptor group when estimating exposure limits and daily exposure levels. The paper was concluded with an interesting case study of a plastics heat extrusion process involving emission of dioxins and furans. This example clearly illustrated the application of the risk assessment principles that had been covered in the first part of the paper.

The second paper was presented by Paul Amyotte, Technical University of Nova Scotia, and dealt with measurement of lean flammability limits of combustible dusts. The paper drew on the authors' experience testing various materials such as coal dust, lycopodium and polyethylene. Emphasis was placed on the need for use of an optimum ignition source in making limit measurements -- neither too weak nor too strong. The current status of engineering standards for lean limit measurements of heterogeneous mixtures was also discussed.

The next paper in the session was delivered by Les Shemilt, McMaster University. A large contingent of McMaster students was on had to hear Shemilt talk on predictive risk assessment in the disposal of high-level nuclear waste. He pointed out that risk criteria for the multi-barrier disposal system are in place, and what is now required is a methodology for long-term prediction of consequences.

Shemilt indicated that an external (i.e., public) review of high-level waste disposal is in progress, and then challenged the scientific and engineering associations to participate in the review process. Picking up on this theme, it was observed during the question period that predicting into the long-term future is never easy, but is clearly a task in which scientific and engineering professionals must play a key role.

The session concluded with a presentation on chlorine dioxide plant safety given by Gerald Cowley, Albright and Wilson Americas. Inherently unstable, chlorine dioxide is a major chemical used in the manufacture of bleached pulp. Cowley brought excellent practical insight to the problem of safely producing large quantities of this important chemical. He stressed not only the design of appropriate safety systems, but also the maintenance of such equipment. A lively and interesting period ensued, indicative of the safety concerns of those in attendance.

Unfortunately, attendance throughout the industrial health and safety session was poor. This may have been caused by several factors such as the large number of parallel sessions and the diversity of subject matter within the session itself. Nevertheless, an appropriate challenge to the chemical engineering community is to make the safety-related sessions at the 43rd Canadian Chemical Engineering Conference the best-attended of all sessions.

Synthetic Crude Oils Are an Important Energy Supply

The first paper of the Hydrocarbon Upgrading Symposium II was by F. Khorasheh, S.M. Imrie, and M. Gray, University of Alberta, titled Hydrocracking of Hydrocarbon Mixtures: What Good is a Catalyst. The best yields of synthetic crude oil from bitumen are achieved when the oil is cracked under an atmosphere of high-pressure hydrogen with catalysts or chemical additives. Such technology is used in upgrading of bitumen in operating plants in Alberta and Saskatchewan. Although catalysts are a major operating expense, their contributions are not fully understood.

This study investigated the fundamentals of hydrocarbon cracking at high pressure. Catalyst was not added, and the potential catalytic action of metal walls was avoided by using a glass-lined reactor. At 400-450|degrees~C and 13.7 MPa (2000 psia) olefins were formed from cracking reactions. These olefins subsequently reacted with other components to form heavier compounds than the feed. Rather than cracking the feed, these side reactions gave heavier compounds. In the absence of catalyst, hydrogen was ineffective in reacting with the olefin products to prevent these reactions.

These results show that a critical role of catalyst is to activate hydrogen to react with olefins, and prevent regressive reactions. These results also show that any regions inside a reactor where catalyst is not available may be subject to such unwanted reactions.

The next speaker, Roger Bailey, AOSTRA discussed the Coprocessing of Coal and Heavy Oil in Alberta. He noted that conventional crude oil production in Canada is declining by about 7% each year. As a result, synthetic crude oils from the Athabasca tar sands and heavy oils, such as Cold Lake, are becoming more important for Canadian energy supply. The problem is how to upgrade oil to replace the crude oil, and do it cheaply. Currently available processes are only profitable if the difference in price between heavy oil and synthetic crude oil is at least $10/bbl.

Alberta and Saskatchewan have large reserves of coal near heavy oil producing fields. Coal is much cheaper than oil on an energy basis, and coprocessing of coal with heavy oil may offer attractive benefits. Consequently, a consortium of companies and government agencies funded a feasibility study into coprocessing of coal and oil. The work was done by Monenco, Purvin and Gurtz, and Kilborn. A number of cases were considered, including different competing process technologies, and locations at mine sites, oil fields, and near Edmonton.

All of the alternatives were predicted to cost $1.6 to $2 billion for a 50,000 bbl/d plant, and a differential of $30/bbl between heavy oil and synthetic crude was required to make the projects profitable. Edmonton was the cheapest site, partly due to the available of hydrogen from petrochemical operations. The economic analysis was most sensitive to the cost of heavy oil feed and to capital costs. This study showed that coprocessing of coal and heavy oil was not more attractive than upgrading of heavy oil by itself. Coprocessing was forecast to be more expensive to construct, and riskier in terms of the process technology. Neither straight upgrading nor coprocessing are profitable enough at current oil prices to justify new plants.

Abdul Majid, NRC, discussed ash removal from hydrocracker pitch. The heavy unconverted hydrocarbons from coprocessing of coal and heavy oil by the CANMET hydrocracking process contain a high concentration of solids. Some of these solids are organic material, from the coal, some are inorganic material from the coal, and some is iron compounds added to help reactor operation.

The objective of this study was to see if the iron could be preferentially recovered from the residue product for recycle. When the solids were removed from the hydrocarbon slurry and then ground to less than 10 |mu~m diameter, then the particles rich in iron could be preferentially removed. Using agglomeration technology developed at NRC, Majid and co-workers were able to reject about 40% of the ash and recover most of the iron in spherical agglomerates.

Educators Are Doing Their Part in Adapting to New Challenges

Two well-attended morning sessions were devoted to this increasingly important topic. On Tuesday, under the heading of Philosophy, Principles and Queries, three speakers presented their views. In his thoroughly research keynote address, E. Rhodes, University of Calgary, surveyed a number of recent approaches to undergraduate curricula.

Educators are under the barrage of missiles as (somewhat unrealistic) demands of versatility, wide expertise of computers, communication and management skills etc. of chemical engineering graduates continue to grow, in an atmosphere of "produce more with less".

As expected, there is no agreement among educators about the curriculum, in fact there cannot be a single curriculum, and no curriculum can satisfy all goals. Rhodes listed, nevertheless, improved high-school teaching, industry-university co-operation (e.g., via co-op programs), more industrial experience on the part of professors, foreign language requirements and post-degree formal learning scenarios as some of the important pillars of a better education structure.

Most importantly, fundamental scientific and engineering principles should be given much more place in first- and second-year curricula, and the large number of options, currently much in vogue, should be reconsidered. Satellite-based university networks should be an important future means of sharing specialized courses.

The second and third paper, delivered with an almost missionary zeal by Don Woods, McMaster University, stressed the didactic value of educating our students to come up with quick approximate answers to complex problems; iterative improvements dictated by (arbitrary) levels of accuracy can follow the first intuitive answer. Breaking the audience into small clusters to spend two minutes on an industrial process problem added a special flavor to this hands-on demonstration of the "law of optimum sloppiness". In his second paper, Woods analyzed various teaching/learning scenarios for subject-based and problem-based education.

In the final presentation, Fathi Habashi, Universite de Laval compared the historical European to the North American chemical engineering curriculum. In Europe much more attention has been paid to chemical technology, while North America has favored the unit-operations principle. The proposition that "...chemists with engineering background would be most suitable for solving the problems of chemical industry or developing new industrial processes..." is bound to generate a spectrum of responses.

The second session, entitled Approaches, Methods, Pathways consisted of five presentations addressing specific aspects of chemical engineering education. Ming Rao, University of Alberta, described the particular role played by the unique Intelligence Engineering Laboratory in linking industrial developments and educational software. The pulp and paper industry in his province was cited as a particularly successful "symbiotic" example.

Process-oriented teaching of digital control in the undergraduate laboratory was illustrated by M.F. Couturier, UNB, via the control of S|O.sub.2~ concentration and pH at the exit of a gas adsorption column. The set-up was put together by students working on small projects which included hands-on control experience as well as software development and debugging.

Thomas Fahidy, University of Waterloo used the example of mixing-tank cascades to illustrate a strongly application-oriented teaching of a second-year differential equations course. Students are exposed to a thorough qualitative analysis of the physical behaviour of a system prior to the solution of appropriate equations. The Case Study group project now an integral part of a third-year mass transport course was described by Dr. Goosen, Queen's University. Groups of five students work over a 12-week period on a specific problem, followed by a written report and oral presentation. Not only does this approach render the course material more interesting, but it also simulates closely industrial team-work conditions.

The last paper, by M. Eic, UNB, outlined the advantages of a "Practice School" approach, where students working in teams spend two weeks in an industrial plant under the joint supervision of a professor and an industrial engineer. Apart from practical problem-solving expertise, the students also gain valuable experience in communication skills and interpersonal relations.

Perhaps the largest value of these two sessions was the demonstration of novelty and innovative thinking in Canadian chemical engineering departments. Academic educators are evidently responding to the challenges of the nineties, and are doing their best to maintain the internationally recognized standards of their graduates.

Thomas Z. Fahidy, University of Waterloo, is Acting Editor of the Canadian Journal of Chemical Engineering.
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Title Annotation:includes related articles; Canadian Society for Chemical Engineering
Author:Rodden, Graeme
Publication:Canadian Chemical News
Date:Jan 1, 1993
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