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What is Chemical Engineering?

Chemical engineers change raw materials into valuable products on an industrial scale

Chemical engineers are concerned with PROCESSES and PRODUCTS.

Processes:
  • Making chemicals and pharmaceuticals
  • Processing polymers and foodstuffs
  • Energy generation
  • Wastewater treatment
  • Environmental clean-up
Process Design:
  • Inventing a new process
  • Designing the equipment for a process
  • Operating a process
  • Improving a process
Products:
  • Chemicals - petrol, ammonia, methanol
  • Polymers - polythene, PVC, synthetic fibres
  • Consumer products - shampoo, washing powder
  • Foodstuffs - ice cream, chocolate, beer
  • Pharmaceuticals - paracetamol, penicillin
Product Design:
  • Choosing a product for an application
  • Designing the product
  • Improving the product

Chemical engineers know how transformations occur at different lengthscales.

Transformations:
  • Chemical reactions
  • Changes in physical state (e.g. melting, boiling)
  • Mixing and separating
  • Biosynthesis
Lengthscales:
  • Molecular level - how molecules behave and react
  • Process level - how transformations can be performed
  • Plant level - how processes can be put together
  • Global level - logistics, management, the environment

Chemical engineers know about mature and new technologies.

Mature technology:
  • Stirred tanks
  • Distillation columns
  • Heat exchangers
  • Filters
New technology:
  • Membrane separators and reactors
  • Supercritical fluids
  • Biotechnology
  • Genetic manipulation of organisms

Chemical engineers have knowledge of many subjects.

  • Pure science
  • Engineering
  • Information technology
  • Economics
  • Management
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Safety, health and the environment

Chemical engineers are vital in the process industries.

External link: www.whynotchemeng.com gives more information on "what is chemical engineering".