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22 Feb 2016

Introduction of chemical engineering

What is engineering?

Every day we hear the term of Engineering. So what actually is engineering?
Word engineering is derived from” inginaire” means “to device
Engineering is basically the systematic application of design approaches, manufacturing techniques, Mathematics, knowledge of fundamental sciences and economy to operate or construct the machines, processes or systems in order to produce or improve the desire results, all with the safety of life, machine and property
chemical Engineering history

History and types of Engineering:

Engineering is the part of human life since the first invention of wheel and it has always played a major role in the development of  nations and societies. In ancient times man used his knowledge to make useful tools and create civil structures. Ancient temples and forts are perfect examples and evidences of Engineering in ancient times. With the passage of time many new branches of Engineering has evolved like Electrical Engineering started with the invention of electricity.  Here is the list of few fundamental type of Engineering

  • Civil Engineering
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Chemical Engineering
  • System Engineering
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Mining Engineering
  • Computer Engineering
  • Thermal Engineering
  • Optical Engineering
  • Energy Engineering
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Biological Engineering
  • Industrial Engineering
  • Mechatronics Engineering
  • Nano Engineering
  • Nuclear Engineering
  • Textile Engineering

Introduction of Chemical Engineering:

After the brief Introduction of Engineering, now we will discuss about the chemical Engineering introduction, history, major subjects and applications.


Chemical Engineering is the branch of Engineering which utilizes the fundamental knowledge of chemistry (organic, inorganic, biochemistry), physical sciences, mathematics and economic to design, operate and maintain large industrial scale processes in order to convert raw material in useful products.  All this process is carried out while keeping economic and environmental impacts in view.


Commercial and large scale production of chemicals and other useful products is the part of human life since ancient times. In recent history, Sulfuric Acid was the one of the first chemical which was produced on large scale but all this was performed by chemists and mechanical Engineers. Cloth bleaching, soda ash production, sopa and paper production are few examples of chemical industry in 19th century.  With the industrial revolution, unit operations were developed which are the fundamental part of chemical Engineering. Here is the brief history of chemical engineering Development
19th century:  George E Devis introduced unit operations first time.
1887: World’s First course of chemical engineering was initiated at City and Guilds of London Institute but failed to gain the attention of employers.
1888: first ever chemical engineering course in United States was started at MIT
1905: Unit operations was introduced in MIT
1908: American institute of chemical engineers (AlChE) was developed, it played a very vital role to introduce chemical engineering a separate branch of engineering
1940-1960s: It was understood that unit operations alone are not sufficient so further subjects of chemical engineering introduced such as unit processes, transport phenomenon, biochemical engineering and control systems 
1982: After few serious incidents in chemical industry (i.e Bhopal disaster and Flixborough disaster) AlChE demanded safety as the part of degree to accredit with AlChE
chemical Engineer

Recently vast developments in field of computers has opened new doors for chemical Engineering field especially process control field has improved much. Advance computer programs now can solve complex plant design problems. Use of latest automated control systems has made production processes much safer and accurate.

Fundamental branches:

There are two fundamental branches of chemical engineering

  • Unit Operations
  • Unit Processes

Unit Operations:

Unit operations involve only physical changes (physical conversion) in system and no chemical change takes place. Crushing, grinding of solids, boiling, filtration, mixing, heat transfer, fluid flow and mass transfer are few examples of unit operations. All these involve just change of matters state or concentration but no chemical conversion of one element to other takes place

Unit processes:

Unit processes involve chemical changes (chemical conversion) in the system and physical changes may also take place. Simplest example of unit processes is the combustion of fuel. Fuel such as coal burns in the presence of oxygen and burning this chemical conversion of coal to CO2 ad H20 takes place. All chemical reactions are examples of unit processes, like reaction of Hydrogen (H2) and nitrogen (N2) to produce ammonia (NH3) is the famous industrial unit process. Chemisorption is an example of simultaneous unit process and unit operation.

 Major areas of Chemical Engineering:

  With the passage of time many new area have included in chemical engineering and now it is one of the most versatile engineering disciplines. Here is brief description of some major areas.

Particle technology;

It involves of the production, handling and processing of particulate solids. Major particle technology operations involves particulate size reduction, segregation, crushing, handling, mixing and sizing. Handling and size reduction of raw salt in soda ash plant is an example of particle technology


Stoichiometry mainly involves the calculations of material of the system.  It includes mass balance, energy balance calculations, yield calculations and chemical reaction balancing. It is deeply connected with plant and equipment designing and sizing.


It is basically a branch of physics but knowledge of thermodynamics is very important for chemical engineers due to its numerous applications in industry and design processes. It involves the study of temperature and energy of systems and their relationship with work. Major applications of thermodynamics are in refrigeration and power generation engines.

Fluid mechanics:

Fluid mechanics includes study of fluids (liquids, gases and plasma) types, characteristics and transportation. Fluid static deals with the static fluids and fluid dynamics deals with the flowing fluids and their flow properties. It is basic block of industrial equipment and process design

Heat transfer:

It involves the study of energy exchange between systems and inside a specific system. Three modes of heat transfer (conduction, convention and radiation) are basics of heat transfer. Heat exchangers are main equipment of chemical industry. Understanding of heat transfer phenomenon and designing of heat transfer equipment is very essential for a chemical engineer. Boiling, condensation of fluids and melting of solids are few examples of heat transfer operations

Mass transfer:

It includes the study of transfer of mass (solid, liquid or gas) from one phase/system/fraction to other. Main mass transfer operations include distillation, adsorption, absorption and stripping. Distillation of crude oil to produce gasoline, diesel and other useful products is most widely used mass transfer operation

Chemical Reaction Engineering:

It involves the study of chemical reaction, their mechanics and study of different rectors to conduct these reactions industrially. It is purely a branch of unit processes and requires the knowledge of chemistry to fully understand the reactions and their mechanisms

Simultaneous heat and mass transfer:

Some unit operations include both mass and heat transfer. Such operation are studied under the branch of simultaneous heat and mass transfer. Examples include humidification, diffusion and drying operations

Transport phenomenon:

Transport phenomenon is basically the study of correlation of fluid mechanics, heat transfer and mass transfer. In transport phenomenon, transfer of momentum, heat and mass are studied and their relation with each other is explained.

Chemical process industry:

It is the study of the industrial production processes of the various chemicals and products. It includes the study of processes diagrams and various established industrial practices and processes. Fertilizer, pesticide, petrochemical and food industries are mainly point of interest.
These are just few core areas of chemical engineering. Along these, many other subjects and specialized
Areas are part of the field. some of these are applied chemistry, Engineering drawings, applied       mechanics, Engineering materials, mechanical separation, Energy engineering, gas engineering, chemical reactor design, biochemical engineering, environmental engineering, micro fluids, oil refining, oil exploration, water technology, polymer engineering, food engineering and corrosion engineering

Applications of chemical Engineering:

As we have discussed the major areas of chemical engineering, now it is easy for you to understand the applications of chemical engineering in industry.  Chemical industry has become largest industrial sector in last century. From gasoline to our packed food everything is produced on chemical plants. Here we are going to express few applications of chemical engineering to show you its versatility and importance

  • Oil exploration and refining to produce gasoline, diesel oil and other fractions
  • Production of fertilizers like Urea, Di ammonium phosphate
  • Production of pesticides and insecticides
  • Water purification and disinfection
  • Production of household chemicals like bleach, soaps, detergents, pastes and germicides
  • Production of household food products like baking soda and ketchup
  • Milk processing and dairy product production
  • Food processing and packaging
  • Natural gas exploration and purification
  • Petrochemical industrial products like waxes, lubricants and greases
  • Make up products manufacturing
  • Pharmaceutical industry
  • Biofuel production
  • Production and separation of industrial gases like oxygen, nitrogen
  • Beverages production
  • Power generation
  • Paper production
  • Sugar manufacturing

Future of Chemical Engineering:

Chemical Engineering is an ever growing filed. With increasing environmental and social challenges, now focus is shifting towards sustainable development with less environmental impacts and carbon foot prints. Along with the improvement of existing industrial processes, development of new more secure and precise process is on the way.
nanotechnology in chemical engineering
Advancement in computer engineering is also helping to develop and simulate new processes to gain better quality, cost effective products. Especially developments for sustainable and green energy sources is on the peak like development of hydrogen cells and fusion reactors.
Advancements in the nanotechnology is leading towards new products and changing the face of existing chemical engineering practices
Recent concerns of climate changes are forcing industry to shift towards more environmental friendly processes. Chemical Engineering are researching to find more environmental friendly industrial processes.
This was the brief introduction of chemical engineering for you to understand its basics and importance. Keep visiting to learn more about chemical engineering in depth.