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Studying chemical engineering is tough, so it’s always a good idea to consult the experts within your field. Thankfully the world of chemical engineering has produced several fantastic reference journals to help not only students but also fully qualified chemical engineers working with industry. 

Here we have outlined our top 5 must-read or must-have books for chemical engineers both students and professionals. Unless you have been living under a rock, chances are you are familiar or have at least heard of them. 

These are in no particular order of importance, so let’s dive straight in…

1. Perrys Chemical Engineering Handbook

Sometimes referred to as “the chemical engineer’s bible”, Perry’s has to be one of the most well known and used reference texts of all time. 

At the time of writing this post-2022, we are currently on the 9th edition, which was published back in 2018. Undoubtedly, Perry’s provides a whole host of information that many universities use to form part of their lecture material. So if it’s good enough to be accredited by the IChemE, then this should be at the forefront of your purchase order. 

This book has everything you could ever want to know, from the very basic to the most advanced content. Perry’s Handbook does a very nice job of explaining it all. The book covers thermodynamics, chemical reactors, energy, process economics, reaction kinetics, and spectrometry. 

It has tables on common chemicals and constants that you’d need in your day-to-day activities. The Handbook provides an explanation of which calculations are appropriate for a range of different situations. This is one book that you will almost always hear people refer back to!

2. Chemical Engineering Design - Coulson & Richardson

Coulson Richardson's Chemical Engineering Vol.6 Chemical Engineering Design 6th Edition

Coulson & Richardson are some of the most renowned names in chemical engineering. Having several editions and volumes these texts are often a staple of any Chemical Engineering degree. 

The Chemical Engineering Design by Coulson & Richardson 6th edition is packed full of information from all across the syllabus. One of the most important aspects of this source is the efficiency in presenting the information, from a fundamental to an advanced level. 

This book has several key features which make it one of the best. Here is just some of the highlights… 

  • Mass & Energy balances 
  • Design principles and rules of thumb.
  • Flowsheeting, both computer-aided and manual drawings. 
  • Economics and project evaluation methods and data. 
  • Material selections and criteria. 
  • Design & safety systems for processes and units.
  • Heat Transfer principles. 
As an all rounder this book is certainly one that every chemical engineering student and professional should be consulting from time-to-time! 

3. Distillation Design - Henry Z. Kister

Distillation Design Hnry Z. Kister Chemical Engineering

Distillation Design by Henry Z. Kister is one of the most detailed guides that most chemical engineering students overlook. Here at The ChemEng Student, we fully recommend this book for several key reasons, which we will discuss. The information presented in this book forms the core of our Distillation Course

This book provides a fully comprehensive discussion of the concepts, design, and operations of distillation columns. It articulates the information in a simple down-to-earth format which is super easy to follow. Ideal for new students. 

If you are looking for a guide and single source to fully design, optimise, cost, and analyse, then this is the book for you. Everything you need in one single place. This is your secrete weapon when it comes to distillation design! 

4. Unit Operations of Chemical Engineering - W. McCabe

Unit Operations of Chemical Engineering by Warren McCabe, Julian Smith, Peter Harriot

Unit Operations of Chemical Engineering is a must for students looking for a step-by-step guide to Unit Operations. The book covers the basic concepts that are essential for any unit operation.  While also covering the major points that feature in all Unit Operations modules. 

The book incorporates other modules/principles of chemical engineering, such as the following… 

The great thing about this book is that it covers more unique topics such as membrane operations, diafiltration, and abstract adsorption techniques and processes. 

The text contains a well-balanced treatment of theory and engineering practice, with many practical, illustrative examples included. The book also covers more modern topics such as food processing and biotechnology. Perfect for undergraduate and postgraduate studies!

5. Mass Transfer Operations - Robert E. Treybal

Mass transfer operations by Rober E.Treybal - Chemical Engineering

Arguably one of the fundamental reference texts when it comes to mass transfer. This text has stood the test of time, with the first edition published back in 1981. This 3rd edition is often regarded as the “bible” of mass transfer, and for good reason. 

Like many timeless books, this book provides a whole host of practical and theoretical principles. The beauty of this book is it allows you to evaluate the knowledge you have learned within each chapter. 

Mass transfer is fundamental to many modules within chemical engineering and as such, you can expect to learn several key concepts and processes. Some examples include… 

If you want a fully comprehensive text to support you both as an undergrad and postgrad, then you need to invest in this gem of a book! 

Bonus Book!

Elementary Principles of Chemical Processes - Felder R.M

Elementary principles of chemical processes by Felder and Rousseau - Chemical Engineering

This was the first chemical engineering book I personally got, and it has proven to be one of the best investments I ever made.  Elementary Principles of Chemical Processes, does exactly what it says.

It provides one of the best resources for mass & energy balances. Providing a range of 100’s of questions with worked solutions. This is an absolute must for chemical engineering undergrads. 

Like several books of this calibre, you are provided with a CD which helps explain concepts further as well as aid in solving some very complex problems that require the use of spreadsheeting. A great feature to have. 

Many universities around the world use questions and concepts from this book, so you will have access to many of the problems you will face, both within tutorials and exams (potentially). 

The CD also provides you with a visual encyclopedia of chemical process equipment, as well as a very powerful equation solver that will most defiantly come in handy later in your studies and indeed your career!

Want Even More Books? Check This Video Out

We can’t cover everything, however if you would like to learn more about some of our featured books in this post, as well as other essential texts, with a secret bonus book that is essential for thermodynamics, then check out this video. 

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