Chemical engineering

From ArticleWorld

Chemical engineering is a branch of science that handles the processes involved in the conversion of raw materials and chemicals into more useful products. It includes the use of information from other sciences such as chemistry, physics and mathematics. This science focuses on the design and maintenance of large-scale production processes especially chemical processes. This part of chemical engineering is normally handles under the term process engineering. Chemical engineering is the major contributing factor in the development of industries and not chemistry. Chemical engineers make possible large-scale processes that can provide the quantity and quality of materials required in running an industrial economy.

Chemical engineering vs. chemistry

There are some key differences between these two closely related fields. The chemist can often evaluate the simplest way to complete a reaction to get the required product. The simplest mechanism however is not always the economically viable one. The chemical engineer investigates all the methods and evaluates them by their economic viability. Often the simplest way to complete a task in the laboratory is not the most economically valuable method for large-scale manufacture. This is the key difference between the chemist and the chemical engineer.

Job of chemical engineers

They are required to create the most economic method to produce the desired product. The entire process must be planned and analyzed based on cost. This may mean simplifying a process or making it more complicated. For example, the use of higher pressures or temperatures to make reactions occur at a faster rate or to recycle reactions with low yields.

The processes handled by chemical engineers are classified according to four unit operations which are chemical reaction, mass, heat and momentum-transfer operations. These are used in many combinations to achieve chemical synthesis or separation.

In chemical engineering design three main physical laws are applied. These are the:

  • Conservation of mass
  • Conservation of energy
  • Conservation of momentum