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Was a Transport Phenomena Course in Chemical Engineering Curricula Inevitable?

R. Byron Bird, Chemical and Biological Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1415 Engineering Drive, Madison, WI 53706-1607

This discussion covers mainly the years 1941 to 1961. Before World War II the transport phenomena were discussed in sophomore physics and junior physical chemistry courses, but the material given was not adequate for students in chemical engineering. Furthermore there was no effort made to interrelate the transport phenomena and present the material as a unified subject. The first book we know of in English was "Transport Processes in Applied Chemistry," by Bosworth 1956; however, it was not appropriate for engineering students. At about the same time, In the Netherlands, Professor Hans Kramers in Delft prepared some mimeographed notes in Dutch on elementary transport phenomena for his students in chemical and physical technology. Several groups in the U.S. were also working on similar projects. At the University of Wisconsin in 1957, Bird, Stewart, and Lightfoot began working on a textbook. A paper-back book titled "Notes on Transport Phenomena" was published by Wiley in 1958; this book was class-tested at U.W. as well as at several other universities, and the authors benefitted enormously from the comments provided by the teachers and students. The text was then completely rewritten and expanded to give the final book, "Transport Phenomena," published by Wiley in 1960. After 62 printings a second edition appeared in 2002, and a revised second edition in 2007. The main feature of the book was the unification of the fields of mass, momentum, and energy transport, and also emphasis on the connections between the molecular, microscopic and macroscopic approaches. In addition a closely related laboratory course was developed by Professor E. J. Crosby, who prepared a laboratory manual "Experiments in Transport Phenomena," also published by Wiley. Shortly after the appearance of the U.W. books, many more texts appeared, the first two being a book by mechanical engineers Rohsenow and Choi, and another by chemical engineers Bennett and Myers.

There are now textbooks for many specialized fields and at various levels of difficulty.