ChEn 3603 – Mass Transfer & Separations

Midterm 2 will be held on Friday, March 24.  Here is a copy of last year’s exam.


Administrative Information

  • Meeting times: MWF 8:35-9:25, WEB L104.
  • Text Book (required): Separation Process Principles, 3rd or 4th edition, by Seader, Henley & Roper.
  • Instructor: , Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering
    • Office location: INSCC 360
    • Office hours: I do not hold formal office hours. I have an open-door policy and I am willing to meet with you any time that I am in my office. Alternatively, follow this link to set an appointment.
    • Phone: (801) 585-1246
  • Teaching Assistants:
  • Help hours will be held in INSCC 345 on the following days/times:
    • Mondays 1-2:50 PM (Josh)
    • Tuesdays 9-10 AM (Jake)
    • Tuesdays 12-2 PM (Jake)
    • Wednesdays 4-5 PM (Erick)
    • Thursdays 11-12 (Erick)
    • Fridays 1-2 PM (Josh)
    • Fridays 2-3 PM (Erick)

Getting Help:

  • Feel free to contact Prof. Sutherland or one of the TAs directly. Or you can email  for help as well.

Course objectives & topics:

  1. Mass transfer:
    • Integral and differential mass/mole balances.
    • Fick’s first and second laws for binary mass transfer.
    • Mass transfer in turbulent flow.  Film theory models.
  2. Single equilibrium stage operations:
    • Gibb’s phase rule & degrees of freedom.
    • Binary vapor-liquid equilibrium.
    • T-x-y diagrams.
    • Azeotropes.
    • Multicomponent flash calculations & the Rachford-Rice equation.
    • Ternary liquid-liquid systems.
  3. Absorption & Stripping:
    • Minimum flowrate, Number of equilibrium stages.
    • Stage efficiency.
    • Packed columns.
  4. Binary Continuous Distillation:
    • McCabe-Thiele method.
    • Design considerations: feed stage location, minimum reflux/boilup ratio, minimum number of stages.
  5. Binary batch distillation
  6. Adsorption:
    • Properties of adsorpents.
    • Isotherms – models for adsorption.

Teaching Philosophy:

I assume that you are here to learn. I will do my best to help you achieve that goal. However, learning is primarily your responsibility. You should come to class prepared to participate in the lecture and ask questions. I am happy to meet with you outside of class to discuss questions you have. I also try to respond to email in a timely manner when possible.


In addition to the course website, I will use email regularly to send information to the class. You must have a valid university of utah email address for all correspondence in this class, as outlined by the university’s policy.  If you prefer to use other email addresses, please set up a forward from your umail account (see here for instructions).


Homework is designed to provide you with the opportunity to solidify concepts discussed in class. Homework assignments will typically require you to assimilate several concepts to solve a problem. I do this purposely, since I believe that this will help you to learn problem solving skills that will be crucial to your success as an engineer.

Homework assignments will be posted on the homework page of the course web site.

Solutions will be posted on the class web site shortly after the due date.

I strongly encourage you to work together on homework assignments. Discuss the problem and your solution approaches with each other. However, you must submit your own work. Copying others’ work is plagiarism and will not be tolerated. Consequences of cheating and plagiarism include failure of homework assignments, failure of this class, and possibly dismissal from the chemical engineering program.

Homework assignments must be submitted electronically via the course web page. You should write a report describing the problem, your solution, and presenting your results. Submit your report in PDF format. Any Excel or Matlab files that you used to solve the homework problem should also be submitted with your solution. For more information, see the Homework page.

Grading policy

  • 25% Homework
  • 5% quizzes
  • 16.7% each midterm (three midterms)
  • 20% Final

Grades will be assigned on the following scale, normalized to the highest student in the class:

  • 92: A,  89: A-
  • 86: B+,  81: B,  78: B-
  • 75: C+,  69: C,  65: C-
  • 61: D+,  55: D,  50: D-

I reserve the right to adjust this scale downward if I deem it necessary.

Addressing Sexual Misconduct

Title IX makes it clear that violence and harassment based on sex and gender (which includes sexual orientation and gender identity/expression) is a Civil Rights offense subject to the same kinds of accountability and the same kinds of support applied to offenses against other protected categories such as race, national origin, color, religion, age, status as a person with a disability, veteran’s status or genetic information. If you or someone you know has been harassed or assaulted, you are encouraged to report it to the Title IX Coordinator in the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, 135 Park Building, 801-581-8365, or the Office of the Dean of Students, 270 Union Building, 801-581-7066. For support and confidential consultation, contact the Center for Student Wellness, 426 SSB, 801-581-7776. To report to the police, contact the Department of Public Safety, 801-585-2677(COPS).

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