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The Chemical Engineer's Book Corner

coverChemical Operator's Portable Handbook

Author(s): Jack Ballinger
Publisher: McGraw-Hill

Bottom Line:  This book would make a great gift for operators who strive to learn more about the science behind the processes that they oversee everyday.  Operators may find it useful in some instances, but it won't help them everyday like the process-specific notes that operator carry around after a few year months on the job.

Summary:  "Chemical Operator's Portable Handbook" explains some of the most common principles found in chemical processing facilities.  It is written in an easily comprehendible manner making it suitable for operators of a wide range of educational backgrounds.  The graphics included are timely and are extremely helpful in explaining many concepts.  One of the best features of the book is the inclusion of explanations of some of the most common U.S. regulations governing the chemical industry as well as chemical jargon definitions.   Covering topics from laboratory procedures to basic electronics and unit operations, this book is as comprehensible as possible.  The difficulty is written such a book is in that it cannot be tailored to individual processes.  This will limit the usefulness of any such book for chemical operators.  If your operators are often times seeking additional insight into the processes that they oversee or want a deeper understanding of chemical engineering, this book will certainly be useful.   Don't look for your operators to carry this book around with them as it's simply too large (8" x 5" x 1"), but it would make a nice addition to their desk reference or the control room library.

     The book is divided into the following main sections: 
The Chemical Process Operator and Governmental Regulations
Safety and Workplace Responsibilities
Physical Properties and Determinations
Inorganic Chemistry
Chemical Calculations
Organic Chemistry
Handling Chemicals
Pressure and Vacuum
Handling Compressed Gases
Fluid Mechanics and Plumbing
Mathmatics Review and Conversion Tables
Process Analyzers, Microprocessors, and Computers
Standard Operating Procedures
Basic Electricity
Energy, Work, and Power
Process Operations
First Aid and Emergency Treatment
Glossary of Chemical Process Terms
Commonly Used Abbrviations
Physical Properties of Water

     Each topic is thoughtfully sub-divided in the contents section and finding information quickly is easy thanks to the contents and a thorough index section. 

Layout:    With relatively large text and very good illustrations, you'll find this book very easy to use.  Graphics are explained prior to presentation and are cleary marked for easy reading.  Tables presented throughout the text are timely and also easy to read (with a few exceptions).

From the Book:

8.4 Pressure and Vacuum
     Vacuum can be considered as space in which there are relatively few molecules.  We say "relatively few" because there is no such thing as an absolute vacuum; every substance does exert a definite vapor pressure.  Generally speaking, a vacuum is a state of reduced atmospheric pressure, i.e., some point below normal atmospheric pressure.

Highs:     There are few books written especially for the chemical plant operator.  The information is presented in a format that allow non-engineers to understand the principles which is a major accomplishment.

Lows:     Only one chapter dedicated to process operations is disappointing.  A section of common problems and solutions would have made sense.

Overall:     Operators seeking a deeper understanding of their jobs will appreciate the "Chemical Operator's Portable Handbook."  This book may or may not be an extensively used reference.   Overall, it could make a nice supplement to the operator's process-specific notebook.  The overall rating is two and half stars.  For operators, it could be considered a three star book and for engineers a rating of two stars may be more accurate.

Rating:     3.5stars.gif (1022 bytes)  (out of four stars)

Star Guide:     starguide.gif (9683 bytes)


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