Résumé
In chemical engineering and related fields, a unit operation is a basic step in a process. Unit operations involve a physical change or chemical transformation such as separation, crystallization, evaporation, filtration, polymerization, isomerization, and other reactions. For example, in milk processing, the following unit operations are involved: homogenization, pasteurization, and packaging. These unit operations are connected to create the overall process. A process may require many unit operations to obtain the desired product from the starting materials, or feedstocks. Historically, the different chemical industries were regarded as different industrial processes and with different principles. Arthur Dehon Little developed the concept of "unit operations" to explain industrial chemistry processes in 1916. In 1923, William H. Walker, Warren K. Lewis and William H. McAdams wrote the book The Principles of Chemical Engineering and explained that the variety of chemical industries have processes which follow the same physical laws. They summed up these similar processes into unit operations. Each unit operation follows the same physical laws and may be used in all relevant chemical industries. For instance, the same engineering is required to design a mixer for either napalm or porridge, even if the use, market or manufacturers are very different. The unit operations form the fundamental principles of chemical engineering. Chemical engineering unit operations consist of five classes: Fluid flow processes, including fluids transportation, filtration, and solids fluidization. Heat transfer processes, including evaporation and heat exchange. Mass transfer processes, including gas absorption, distillation, extraction, adsorption, and drying. Thermodynamic processes, including gas liquefaction, and refrigeration. Mechanical processes, including solids transportation, crushing and pulverization, and screening and sieving.
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