What is Chemical and Process Engineering?

ARHSE - Chemical Engineering refinery

Introduction to Chemical and Process Engineering

Chemical and process engineering is a branch of engineering that deals with developing processes for the manufacturing of useful products from raw materials. It involves designing of equipment, processes, and systems to transform raw materials into a valuable final product. The raw materials undergo a required change in composition, energy content, or physical state at a reasonable cost and safest possible manner. Chemical and process engineering is a vast discipline associated with pharmaceutical, food and beverage, energy, petroleum, polymer, metal industries as well as environmental engineering and health and safety engineering fields.

Chemical engineers apply the principles of chemistry, physics, mathematics, biology, and other natural sciences to deal with the material and energy conversion processes. The process engineering field encompasses aspects of designing, testing, scale-up, operation, control, and optimization. A chemical engineer must have a detailed understanding of unit operations such as Distillation, Mixing, Biological processes, Filtration, Crystallization, Evaporation, etc., which makes the conversion processes possible. Chemical engineering utilizes mass, momentum, and energy transfer together with chemical kinetics and thermodynamics to analyze and improve on these “unit operations.

Importance of Chemical and Process Engineering

Chemical engineers offer valuable contributions to the betterment of life while generating profit for the companies. They make sure every consumer product is safe and reliable as possible. Process engineers support in developing new processes, improving products as well as provide solutions for the environmental issues, health and safety issues related to the industry.
Chemical engineers are employed in a variety of industries like food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, petrochemicals, polymer products, etc. They maximize productivity and product quality and minimizing cost.
Furthermore, they provide better waste management solutions for the community and industry. Thus, chemical engineering can be elaborate as a field which associated throughout the product’s life cycle.

Core Subjects of Chemical Engineering

The core subject areas related to Chemical and Process Engineering are as follows.

  • Unit Operations
  • Heat and Mass Transfer
  • Fluid Mechanics
  • Fluid Dynamics
  • Instrumentation and Process Control
  • Plant and Equipment Design
  • Particle Technology
  • Reactor Engineering
  • Thermodynamics

Apart from these core subject areas, there are specific subject areas followed by chemical engineers such as Petro Chemical Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Food Processing Technology, Polymer Technology, Energy Engineering.

Role of a Chemical and Process Engineer

Process engineering is a very advanced engineering specialization. The general responsibilities of a chemical and process engineer can be elaborated as follows.

  • Monitor equipment operations to ensure that they are functioning correctly within the acceptable level of controlling parameters.
  • Find new techniques to enhance current processes and product quality while stimulating high productivity.
  • Simulate new processes with software that mimic real-world conditions.
  • Conduct risk assessment of existing processes and equipment.
  • Maintain standard operating procedures for all the activities associated with existing processes.
  • Troubleshoot production problems.
  • Continual evaluation of all processes and equipment and developed more efficient, economic processes.
  • Management of new equipment installation.
  • Overseeing operational personnel and floor workers.
  • Collect, analyze, interpret, and compile data-based reports based on data from the manufacturing floor.
  • Explain and present data findings to high-level management personnel.
  • Budgeting responsibilities.

Industrial Applications of Chemical Engineering

Food Industry

Chemical and process engineers contribute to the food industry by improving the food production process, inventing new techniques to ensure and enhance the quality of the products, increase the shelf life of the products and introduce methods to prevent food-borne diseases. And also, they invent pesticides and fertilizers that protect and help to enhance fruit and vegetable production.

Furthermore, they develop advanced materials and techniques that can be used for packaging. The packaging is critical in the food industry to prevent any contamination from the external environment and maintain quality and shelf life for end-user satisfaction. Chemical engineers come up with new sterilization techniques to preserve perishable foods against spoilage. Food innovation is another application of chemical engineering in the food industry. They modify the ingredients in the foods for better flavors and nutrition. Moreover, chemical engineers are responsible for inventing new methods for safe food handling to prevent food-borne diseases.

Petro Chemical Industry

The petrochemical industry deals with the chemical processes converting crude oil and petroleum into useful products like plastic, rubber, and synthetic fibers. Chemical engineers play an essential role in this industry ranging from managing production processes in plants and refineries to research and developments in laboratories with the focus of problem-solving. They design and develop processes and equipment for production and simulate and control such processes.

Environmental Engineering

Chemical engineers play an essential role in solving environmental engineering issues in the industry. They introduce new techniques for solid waste management, safe disposal of toxic waste, sewage treatment plant management, water treatment plant management, and prevent the release of gaseous pollutants. And also, they develop new recycling techniques to reduce environmental pollution. These activities lead to significantly reduce the adverse environmental impact of industrial facilities, power plants, and transportation vehicles and permit better reuse of post-consumer and post-industrial waste streams.

Energy Engineering

Chemical engineers involved with the energy engineering sector, where the production of energy through natural resources (extraction of oil and gas) and renewable sources (biofuels, wind power, solar power, hydro-power). Energy engineers focused on introducing efficient, clean, and innovative paths to supply energy. Designing and testing machinery, improving existing processes, convert and provide useful energy for requirements, finding new sustainable energy generation methods, and reduce emissions from fossil fuel burning are the roles of a chemical in the energy engineering sector.

Pharmaceuticals Production and Biotechnology

Pharmaceutical products and biotechnology are also involving chemical engineering. In the pharmaceutical industry, chemical engineers are responsible for developing large scale medicine production, packaging, and delivery of pharmaceutical products. Maintain product and packaging quality, process improvements, maintain good manufacturing practices during the production, solving problems associated with medicine production should be managed by them. Chemical Engineers are instrumental in creating and manufacturing drugs as well as medical and surgical supplies.