Rules of Thumb for Chemical Engineers, Fifth Edition, provides solutions, common sense techniques, shortcuts, and calculations to help chemical and process engineers deal with practical on-the-job problems. It discusses physical properties for proprietary materials, pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical sector heuristics, and process design with simulation software, along with closed-loop heat transfer systems, heat exchangers, packed columns, and structured packings. Organized into 27 chapters, the book begins with an overview of formulae and data for sizing piping systems for incompressible and compressible flow. It then moves to a discussion of design recommendations for heat exchangers, practical equations for solving fractionation problems, along with design of reactive absorption processes. It also considers different types of pumps and presents narrative as well as tabular comparisons and application notes for various types of fans, blowers, and compressors. The book also walks the reader through the general rules of thumb for vessels, how cooling towers are sized based on parameters such as return temperature and supply temperature, and specifications of refrigeration systems. Other chapters focus on pneumatic conveying, blending and agitation, energy conservation, and process modeling. Online calculation tools, Excel workbooks, guidelines for hazardous materials and processes, and a searchable Rules of Thumb library are included. Chemical engineers faced with fluid flow problems will find this book extremely useful.

Key Features

  • Rules of Thumb for Chemical Engineers brings together solutions, information and work-arounds that engineers in the process industry need to get their job done.
  • New material in the Fifth Edition includes physical properties for proprietary materials, six new chapters, including pharmaceutical, biopharmaceutical sector heuristics, process design with simulation software, and guidelines for hazardous materials and processes
  • Now includes SI units throughout alongside imperial, and now accompanied by online calculation tools and a searchable Rules of Thumb library


Chemical Engineers

Table of Contents


Publisher’s Note

1. Fluid Flow


Data Required

General Procedure

Recommended Velocity

Equivalent Length

Shortcut Equation for Pressure Drop Due to Friction

Reynolds Number

Friction Factor

Incompressible Flow

Compressible Flow – Isothermal

Compressible Flow – Transmission Equations

Compressible Flow – Adiabatic

Visual Basic Subroutines for Pressure Drop Due to Friction


Control Valves

Partially Full Horizontal Pipes

Two-Phase Flow


2. Heat Exchangers



Selection Guides

Design Recommendations

Process Data

Heat Exchanger Configuration and Area

Determining the LMTD Configuration Correction Factor

Tubeside Pressure Drop

Tube Side Film Coefficient

Shell Diameter

Ideal Shell Side Film Coefficient

Shell Side Film Coefficient Correction Factors

Overall Heat Transfer Coefficient

Shell Side Pressure Drop

Heat Transfer Coefficients

Fouling Resistances

Installation Recommendations

Thermal Conductivity of Metals

Vacuum Condensers

Air-cooled Heat Exchangers: Forced vs. Induced Draft

Air-cooled Heat Exchangers: Air Data

Air-cooled Heat Exchangers: Thermal Design

Air-cooled Heat Exchangers: Pressure Drop, Air Side

Air-cooled Heat Exchangers: Temperature Control


3. Fractionators


Separation Factor

Relative Volatility

Vapor-Liquid Equilibrium

Activity Coefficients

Establishing the Column Pressure

Minimum Reflux – Binary

Minimum Reflux−Multicomponent

Minimum Stages

Relationship of Theoretical Stages to Reflux Ratio


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© 2012
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About the authors

Stephen Hall

P.E. is consultant to chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturers. His career in the chemical process industries has spanned plant design and construction, operations, and engineering contracting. He has been project designer on more than 100 projects in sectors including food, pharmaceutical, specialty chemical, heavy chemical and petrochemical installations. He has published several articles on chemical engineering topics, and is an experienced process modeling software developer.

Affiliations and Expertise

P.E. is consultant to chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturers.

Carl R. Branan

Carl R. Branan has more than 40 years of worldwide experience in process design and troubleshooting in oil, chemicals, fibers, polymers, coal, natural gas, and LNG. Before retiring from El Paso Natural Gas, he served a process engineer, plant engineer, and project engineer. Mr. Branan is a member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and is the author of several books on process engineering and fractionators, including Rules of Thumb for Chemical Engineers.

Affiliations and Expertise

Retired El Paso Natural Gas, El Paso, TX, USA