What is Chemical Plant Engineering?

Jason C. Chavis
Jason C. Chavis
Scientist with beakers
Scientist with beakers

Chemical plant engineering is a branch of engineering involving a number of scientific platforms including physics, chemistry and biology. The physical and life science aspects merge with mathematics to enable facilities to process chemicals and other raw materials into new substances that are useful to a number of industries. Various processes are used to enable chemical plant engineering to succeed,. New techniques are at the forefront of the industry, with the utilization of biomedical technology and nanotechnology. Design is also a primary component in the field of chemical plant engineering, with large-scale structural development an important aspect that facilitates the processes.

Chemical plant engineering is divided into two main sectors: operations and processes. Operations are focused on the design and analysis of processing materials with a strong emphasis on developing a unified approach to the techniques. Reactive processes are the main focus of the other sector in chemical plants. This deals more with the behavior and actions of the actual chemicals and materials used to create a product. Essentially, the operations portion of the industry facilitates the production of a substance, while the process portion determines the components that will be used.

Anyone working in chemical plant engineering must be strongly concerned with safety, sustainability, and economic concerns. The chemical and biological aspects of the industry have environmental impacts as well as dangers to workers. Chemical plants usually process a number of hazardous materials, meaning security is highlighted, as is the ultimate matter of what to do with the waste materials. This facet of the field is generally known as chemical plant process engineering.

The first chemical plants were developed in the early 1800s. One of the most famous chemical plant engineers was a physicist named Sadi Carnot, who studied combustion reactions and thermodynamics using steam engines as a platform in 1824. These methodologies were adapted by a number of German and American physicists over the next few decades, most notably Josiah Willard Gibbs, a Yale University scholar. Throughout the next century, chemical plant engineers were able to identify the best ways to process materials and develop new substances.

A wide variety of products are created using chemical plant engineering. These include fuels, detergents and pharmaceuticals. One of the most important developments created by chemical plant engineering was the invention of plastics. This accounts for a major portion of the modern industry and has changed the way products such as food are processed.

You might also Like

Discuss this Article

Post your comments
Forgot password?
    • Scientist with beakers
      Scientist with beakers