Unit operations are key components of each process plant that carries out transformation of raw materials into desired products. Understanding the unit operations and their interactions is essential to assessing the performance and feasibility of the entire process plant. 

This course aims to build the understanding of the fundamental principles of typical unit operations in process plants across a number of industries. This focuses on development of the industrially-relevant skills, such as understanding of the unit operations’ operating principles, ability to both develop mathematical representations of unit operations and assess interactions between unit operations in the process plant. 

At a glance

  • Dates
    • Please enquire for course dates
  • DurationFive days
  • LocationCranfield campus
  • Cost£1,700 The course fee includes refreshments and lunch during the day. Accommodation is not included and must be booked separately. Concessions available

Course structure

The course runs over five days and includes lectures, case studies and a workshop on Process Design and Operation. All delegates will receive a Certificate of Attendance at the end of the course.

What you will learn

On completion of the course, you will be able to:

  • Critically evaluate detailed design features and operating characteristics of the main components of process plants,
  • Critically evaluate the limitations and operating difficulties inherent in process equipment and how to overcome operational problems for industrial processes,
  • Carry out design calculations for a wide range of process plant equipment,
  • Identify the most appropriate equipment components for a given process plant application.

Core content

  • Overview of process plant operations: Equipment for resource recovery. Raw material preparation. Downstream processing. Effluent control and services,
  • Contactors:  Stirred vessels (impeller design, flow patterns, flow and turbulence, power input, mixing, gas-liquid and liquid-liquid contact, non-Newtonian fluids). Fluidised beds. Packed beds. Bubbling columns. Two-phase flow. Pulsed columns. Rotating disc and Rushton-Oldshue columns,
  • Evaporators: Design of heating calandria. Climbing film. Boiling heat fluxes. Multiple effect. Scraped film. Vapour recompressions,
  • Crystallisers: Cooling and evaporative. Solubilities. Primary and secondary nucleation. Crystal growth. Size distributions. Precipitation,
  • Dryers: Batch drying. Constant and falling rates. Diffusion in pores. Adiabatic saturation. Continuous drying. Pneumatic dryers. Spray dryers. Evaporation from single drop. Droplet trajectories.  Freeze dryers,
  • Filters: Review of designs. Darcy's and Ruth's equations. Incompressible and compressible cakes constant rate and constant pressure,
  • Centrifugal separators: Centrifugal principles. Basket. Disc stack. Horizontal bowl. Batch and continuous operations,
  • Effluent control: Gas absorption. Packed columns. Hydraulics. Flooding. Mass transfer. Solubility. Cyclones and hydrocyclones. Coalescer designs for liquid-liquid separation. De-misters,
  • Services: Simultaneous heat and mass transfer in humidification and water cooling. Design of water cooling towers,
  • Scale-up: General rules and specific procedures,
  • Distillation: Vapour-liquid equilibrium. Types of Distillation. Distillation with Reflux. Distillation column design and operation,
  • Case Study:  Application of unit operations in feasibility assessment of low-carbon systems.

Who should attend

This course will be of particular interest to engineers or researchers in the chemical, petrochemical, water, oil and gas industries.


This short course is a module of the MSc in Process Systems Engineering which is accredited by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE).


10% discount applies if booked 8 weeks in advance. 10% discount for 3rd and subsequent delegates from the same company/site. Only one discount is applicable per booking.

Accommodation options and prices

This is a non-residential course. If you would like to book accommodation on campus, please contact Mitchell Hall or Cranfield Management Development Centre directly. Further information regarding our accommodation on campus can be found here.

Alternatively you may wish to make your own arrangements at a nearby hotel.

Location and travel

Cranfield University is situated in Bedfordshire close to the border with Buckinghamshire. The University is located almost midway between the towns of Bedford and Milton Keynes and is conveniently situated between junctions 13 and 14 of the M1.

London Luton, Stansted and Heathrow airports are 30, 90 and 90 minutes respectively by car, offering superb connections to and from just about anywhere in the world. 

For further location and travel details

Location address

Cranfield University
College Road
MK43 0AL

Read our Professional development (CPD) booking conditions.