ENCH396-24S1 (C) Semester One 2024

Chemical Engineering Separations 1

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 19 February 2024
End Date: Sunday, 23 June 2024
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 3 March 2024
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Sunday, 12 May 2024


An introduction to the fundamental principles of equilibrium conditions and heat and mass transfer. Consistent methodology is applied to demonstrate how fundamental principles are used to design and operate separation unit operations. Example unit operations include washing and leaching, distillation, gas absorption, membranes, humidification, and drying.

• Fundamental principle (unit operation)
• Separation physical challenge
• Separation process metrics
• Solubility (Washing and leaching)
• Equilibrium stages (Washing and leaching)
• Counter-current, cross-current, and co-current design (Washing and leaching)
• Vapour-liquid equilibria (Distillation)
• Operating equations (Distillation)
• Mass transfer limitations (Gas Absorption)
• Steady-state processes (Membranes)
• Heat transfer (Drying)
• Humidity (Humidification)
• Combined heat and mass transfer (Drying and Humidification)
• Roles of separation engineers (Industrial interviews)
• Project management (Optional)

Learning Outcomes

  • Generic problem-solving methods for approaching separation unit operation design.
  • Interview skills to discover, refine, and define the problem that needs to be solved.
  • Gain insight into professional separation engineering roles.
  • Improve formatting and written report skills.
  • Locate and critically analyse technical information from the academic literature.
  • Define the key metrics used to evaluate industrial separation processes.
  • Understand how equilibria and mass transfer determine if a separation is ‘easy’ or ‘difficult’.
  • Interpret and construct binary and ternary phase diagrams for vapour-liquid, including non-ideal behaviour.
  • Design and size flash distillation units for binary separations using numerical and graphical methods.
  • Design and size multi-stage distillation units for binary separations using numerical and graphical methods.
  • Produce process flow diagrams indicating how separation unit operations can be combined to purify azeotropes.
  • Design batch distillation systems and qualitatively determine if batch or continuous distillation columns are superior for specific applications.
  • Mathematically describe diffusive and convective mass transport. Understand experimental methods for determining diffusion coefficients.
  • Link mass transfer theory to stage efficiency in distillation and gas absorption.
  • Apply mass transfer coefficients to designing packed towers for gas absorption.
  • Design steady-state membrane processes.
  • Understand materials limitations for membranes used in liquid and gas separations.
  • Use laboratory data to determine the permeability and permeance of materials and membranes, respectively.
  • Recognise how membrane properties are required to enable process designs for gas separations and dehydration of ethanol.
  • Understand the equilibria and mass transfer theory of humidification and drying operations.
  • Design and size wood drying kilns and cooling towers.


Timetable 2024

Students must attend one activity from each section.

Lecture A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Friday 14:00 - 15:00 Psychology - Sociology 252 Lecture Theatre
19 Feb - 24 Mar
22 Apr - 2 Jun
Lecture B
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Wednesday 15:00 - 16:00 Psychology - Sociology 252 Lecture Theatre
19 Feb - 31 Mar
22 Apr - 2 Jun
Lecture C
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Thursday 15:00 - 16:00 Ernest Rutherford 465
19 Feb - 31 Mar
29 Apr - 2 Jun
Tutorial A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Wednesday 19:00 - 21:00 E5 Lecture Theatre
29 Apr - 5 May
Tutorial A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Tuesday 11:00 - 12:00 Rehua 003 Music
13 May - 2 Jun
Tutorial B
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Friday 13:00 - 14:00 Beatrice Tinsley 111
3 Jun - 9 Jun

Course Coordinator

Matthew Cowan


Assessment Due Date Percentage  Description
Final Exam 45%
Assignment 1 08 Mar 2024 10% Equlibrium stage process design (Washing and leaching)
Assignment 2 26 Apr 2024 15% Mass transfer modifications to equilibrium stage process design (Gas absorption)
Test 01 May 2024 20% : Vapour-liquid equilibria, operating equations, and mass transfer (Distillation)
Assignment 3 17 May 2024 10% Roles of separation engineers (Industrial interviews)

36 lectures, 3 assignments and 1 test. Attendance at all lectures is highly encouraged. Students who do not complete all assigned readings, assignments, and the exam are much less likely to pass.

You have optional involvement in using a project management software to organize your ENCH396 schedule and workload.

Textbooks / Resources

Required Texts

Wankat, Phillip C; Separation process engineering : includes mass transfer analysis ; 3rd ed; Prentice Hall, 2012.

Recommended Reading

Seader, J. D. , Henley, Ernest J., Roper, D. Keith; Separation process principles : chemical and biochemical operations ; 3rd ed; Wiley, 2011.


All information about academic policies (e.g. special consideration, dishonest practice) can be found on the ENCH-Undergraduate LEARN page.

This is a compulsory course. It provides preparation for ENCH496, ENCH494, and for graduate employment. Prerequisite: ENCH292

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $1,059.00

International fee $6,000.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

For further information see Chemical and Process Engineering .

All ENCH396 Occurrences

  • ENCH396-24S1 (C) Semester One 2024