Book Review: Process Safety Calculations Second Edition

Article by Esther Ventura-Medina CEng MIChemE

Renato Benintendi; ISBN: 9780128235164; Elsevier; 2021; €190.75

There is no doubt that safety is paramount in the chemical and process industries, and as such it requires a rigorous approach. If we look back at the number of major accidents that have happened over the years, it is staggering to see how many have occurred partly due to lack of carefully-considered risk assessments either during early design or later plant operation. Hence it is unquestionable that safety will always be a current subject regardless of time. It also means that it is one of the topics that we need to keep on learning throughout our careers as the knowledge base expands from research and practice.

Benintendi’s book – as suggested by the title – focuses on quantification of risks associated with hazards in chemical processes, and their potential consequences. As such this book is rich in scenarios about what could go wrong and offers models and examples of calculations to support decisions regarding risks assessments, which are based on how wrong things could become in the case of an event. In an effort to make sense of potential hazardous situations, the book offers classifications and explanations from the theoretical perspective while keeping the context relevant within legislation and practice.

The book is organised in three parts, dealing in turn with fundamentals, assessment of event consequences, and quantitative risk assessment. This organisation makes it particularly good for those looking to find specific calculation methods and examples.

Part 1 deals with chemical engineering fundamental concepts such as chemistry, chemical equilibrium, thermodynamics, and reaction engineering within process safety. It offers a wide set of industry examples where fundamental concepts are applied in the context of safety. In my experience, much of chemical engineering fundamentals (eg thermodynamics, chemical reactors) included in university programmes are too often taught through examples that are abstract (eg substance A) or outside relevant industrial contexts. This lack of context in teaching makes it difficult for students to establish connections with applications, limiting their ability to transfer their abstract knowledge to different contexts later on.

Covering this material as “fundamental chemical engineering concepts” – as opposed to separating out the “fundamentals of safety” – makes it easy to see how these concepts apply in process safety situations and to understand the connection between safety and practice. This is particularly useful in university training where the intent is to embed aspects such as safety throughout the curriculum instead of concentrating it into dedicated courses. It is equally useful to those who might not have a chemical engineering background working in the chemical industries.

Article by Esther Ventura-Medina CEng MIChemE

Senior Lecturer at the University of Strathclyde and Chair of the IChemE Education SIG

Recent Editions

Catch up on the latest news, views and jobs from The Chemical Engineer. Below are the four latest issues. View a wider selection of the archive from within the Magazine section of this site.