Topic outline

  • General

    Note! Pre-exam 45 min, a) Fri 17.9 or b) Wed 22.9 @ 16.15, Via MyCourses (2021). Instructions in the link.

    CHEM-E7130, Process Modeling, 5 Cr

    The Zoom link for remote execution of the course 2021 is found also in Materials and Exercises section


    This course introduces basic principles of mechanistic chemical process modeling. The approach bases mainly on systematic application of appropriate balances and rate laws. Special emphasis is in heat and mass transfer due to the structure of the MSc majors at Aalto CHEM, where this course is included. Some numerical methods to solve the models are also introduced.

    The course starts with a pre-exam, where the aim is to revise mathematical preliminaries needed in mechanistic modeling. These should be pre-requisites for this course, but due to varying background of the students and/or time elapsed from the related earlier studies, this course is started with a preparatory part.

    Learning outcomes    

    After the course the student

    • Understands the process dynamics and nonlinearities of typical chemical processes and coupling between physical phenomena
    • Can model chemical processes and carry out model based analysis
    • Can solve mechanistic process models using appropriate numerical techniques



    • Process modeling with material and energy balances
    • Effect of rate models (mass and heat transfer, reaction rates) on modeling
    • Specific topics in mass transfer: multicomponent mass transfer, non-conventional driving forces, population balances
    • Numerical methods to solve typical mechanistic models in chemical engineering including algebraic, ordinary and partial differential equations. Reactor and unsteady heat transfer modeling examples.
    • Implementation of the models and numerical methods using Matlab

    Workload (grading % of total points)

    • Lectures 16 h
    • Exercises 40 h (15 %)
    • Home assignments 30 h (30 %)
    • Pre-exam 15 h        (10 %)
    • Other independent study and final exam 33 h (45 %)
    • Responding to the official course feedback, 1 extra point

    Grading is built so that it corresponds to the workload as well as possible. Workload related to the lectures and part of the exercises are included in the final exam grade. Exercise grading shown in the list refers to participation points (see description later). No specific parts of the course are compulsory for passing, but 50 % of total points are needed for passing and 85 % for the highest grade. If less than 5 % of the registered students would get the highest grade, then the limits may be lowered.

    If all the graded assignments are done during the same year, they remain valid with the earned points. If you have finished only parts of the course, e.g. have points only from pre-exam and exercises but wish to continue next year with home assignments, earlier completed tasks may be recognized upon agreement but only with reduced points.


    • Pre-exam will be held during the first two weeks of the course. There will be two exam days, but you can participate only one of them. No need to register. The second one will not be easier than the first one.
    • Pre-exam material: Lecture notes, chapters 2 and 3. In chapter 3, the examples are covered only from mathematical model building point of view.
    • For 2020 remote exams: all material is allowed, but please note that there is only 45 min to complete! Exams will be returned to MC Turnitin box.


    · Lectures will be held once a week. There are typically small activating tasks during the lectures, so be prepared with pen, paper and a calculator.

    · For each lecture, specific chapters of the hand-outs are assigned. You are expected to read those parts before the lecture in order to get most out of the lecture and exercises on the same week.


    - Twice a week in the computer class. By actively participating in the exercises, the student gets a point from each exercise; no returned answers are expected. For 2020 remote exercises, a small quiz is prepared for each exercise. Attendance points for each exercise are given based on these quizzes. Quiz opens 15 min before exercise ends and closes 15 min after the end. You should be able to respond to the questions if you have actively participated to the exercise.

    · If you cannot attend, you can get the point by returning a report how you did the exercise (one page) and the answers before the exercise session. The report must contain answers and a short written description. You should ask for any help if needed. The idea is that you should get the same advice as during the normal exercise. Workload for this alternative is expected to be higher than in the corresponding normal exercise. This is only a substitute for normal exercise sessions in special cases!

    · Answers will be uploaded to MC either at the end of each session or immediately afterwards. You are expected to go through them and ask for any clarifications irrespective of the way you are doing the exercise.


    Home assignments

    • There are two home assignments. Home assignment topics will be presented and practiced during the computer exercise sessions before the assignment is published.
    • Home assignments are to be done in groups of 3 (maximum). Smaller groups are possible as well.
    • For the first home assignment, there are two options: those who want only to get familiar with Matlab, you can select an easier introductory version with highest grade 3. For the others, the assignment goes deeper to the application. You can also change from the easier to the full assignment during the course, but you must agree on this with your assignment group.
    • For post-graduate students or those very familiar with modeling and programming, another option can be selected, where you do a single larger home assignment alone. This should be related to your research work. This option can be selected with a separate agreement only.
    • The home assignments will be graded separately


    Although this is not a programming course, solution of chemical engineering models are done with computer programs. Often it is necessary to write simple programs describing chemistry of your particular case. In this course, we use Matlab as a generic model-solving tool. If you do not have any previous experience in programming, it is highly recommended that you get familiar with the basics yourself in the beginning of the course. Some introductory material is provided for you.

    Final exam

    ·  Based on lectures, exercises, and hand-outs. Additional distributed supporting material (in MyCourses) could be included but only if informed separately. Pre-exam material is included also in the final exam.

    ·  There will be theory and (small) calculation questions. Tools which are used on the course (Excel and Matlab) may be needed in the remote exam, but not extensively. Typically questions are related to short explanation of terminology, formulation of a model, and explanation of brief computer program performance

    ·  For 2020, all material is allowed. Exams are returned to MC Turnitin -box

    · Idea is not to memorize details, but to understand and apply.

    · For the first final exam date, some additional extra feedback questions with extra points may be available

    · If you have done other parts of the course in earlier years, remember to mark that in your exam paper

    · You are encouraged to propose an exam question (pre or final). If you propose a very good question that will end up in the exam, you may get additional point for the course and/or be able to answer to your own question at the exam day.