(excerpted from: Svrcek, W.Y., Mahoney, D.P., Young, B.R., “A Real-Time Approach to Process Control”, John Wiley & Sons, 2006)

Prior to the 1950s, calculations had been done manually (using  a slide rule) on mechanical or electronic calculators. In 1950, Rose and Williams wrote the first steady-state, multistage binary distillation tower simulation program. The total simulation was written in machine language on an IBM 702, a major feat with the hardware of the day. The general trend through the 1950s was steady-state simulation of individual units. The field was moving so rapidly that by 1953 the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) had the first annual review of Computers and Computing in Chemical Engineering. The introduction of FORTRAN by IBM, in 1954, provided the impetus for the chemical process industry to embrace computer calculations. The 1950s can be characterized as a period of discovery.

From the early 1960s to the present day, steady-state process simulation has moved from a tool used only by experts to a software tool used daily to perform routine calculations. This was made possible by the advances in computing hardware, the most significant of which has been the proliferation of powerful desktop personal computers (PCs), the development of Windows-based systems software, and the the development of object-oriented programming languages. This combination of inexpensive hardware and system tools has led to the proliferation of exceptionally user-friendly and robust software tools for steady-state process simulation and design. Dynamic simulation naturally developed along with the steady-state simulators. Figure 1 presents a summary of the growth of dynamic process simulation.


Figure 1 Development of dynamic process simulators