Chemical engineering

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Chemical engineers design, construct and operate process plants (fractionating columns pictured). Colonne distillazione.jpg
Chemical engineers design, construct and operate process plants (fractionating columns pictured).

Chemical engineering is a certain type of engineering which deals with the study of operation and design of chemical plants as well as methods of improving production. Chemical engineers develop economical commercial processes to convert raw material into useful products. Chemical engineering uses principles of chemistry, physics, mathematics, biology, and economics to efficiently use, produce, design, transport and transform energy and materials. The work of chemical engineers can range from the utilization of nanotechnology and nanomaterials in the laboratory to large-scale industrial processes that convert chemicals, raw materials, living cells, microorganisms, and energy into useful forms and products. Chemical engineers are involved in many aspects of plant design and operation, including safety and hazard assessments, process design and analysis, modeling, control engineering, chemical reaction engineering, nuclear engineering, biological engineering, construction specification, and operating instructions.

Contents

Chemical engineers typically hold a degree in Chemical Engineering or Process Engineering. Practicing engineers may have professional certification and be accredited members of a professional body. Such bodies include the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) or the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE). A degree in chemical engineering is directly linked with all of the other engineering disciplines, to various extents.

Etymology

George E. Davis Davis GE.jpg
George E. Davis

A 1996 British Journal for the History of Science article cites James F. Donnelly for mentioning an 1839 reference to chemical engineering in relation to the production of sulfuric acid. [1] In the same paper, however, George E. Davis, an English consultant, was credited with having coined the term. [2] Davis also tried to found a Society of Chemical Engineering, but instead it was named the Society of Chemical Industry (1881), with Davis as its first secretary. [3] [4] The History of Science in United States: An Encyclopedia puts the use of the term around 1890. [5] "Chemical engineering", describing the use of mechanical equipment in the chemical industry, became common vocabulary in England after 1850. [6] By 1910, the profession, "chemical engineer," was already in common use in Britain and the United States. [7]

History

New concepts and innovations

Demonstration model of a direct-methanol fuel cell. The actual fuel cell stack is the layered cube shape in the center of the image. Fuel cell NASA p48600ac.jpg
Demonstration model of a direct-methanol fuel cell. The actual fuel cell stack is the layered cube shape in the center of the image.

In 1940s, it became clear that unit operations alone were insufficient in developing chemical reactors. While the predominance of unit operations in chemical engineering courses in Britain and the United States continued until the 1960s, transport phenomena started to experience greater focus. [8] Along with other novel concepts, such as process systems engineering (PSE), a "second paradigm" was defined. [9] [10] Transport phenomena gave an analytical approach to chemical engineering [11] while PSE focused on its synthetic elements, such as control system and process design. [12] Developments in chemical engineering before and after World War II were mainly incited by the petrochemical industry; [13] however, advances in other fields were made as well. Advancements in biochemical engineering in the 1940s, for example, found application in the pharmaceutical industry, and allowed for the mass production of various antibiotics, including penicillin and streptomycin. [14] Meanwhile, progress in polymer science in the 1950s paved way for the "age of plastics". [15]

Safety and hazard developments

Concerns regarding the safety and environmental impact of large-scale chemical manufacturing facilities were also raised during this period. Silent Spring , published in 1962, alerted its readers to the harmful effects of DDT, a potent insecticide.[ citation needed ] The 1974 Flixborough disaster in the United Kingdom resulted in 28 deaths, as well as damage to a chemical plant and three nearby villages.[ citation needed ] The 1984 Bhopal disaster in India resulted in almost 4,000 deaths.[ citation needed ] These incidents, along with other incidents, affected the reputation of the trade as industrial safety and environmental protection were given more focus. [16] In response, the IChemE required safety to be part of every degree course that it accredited after 1982. By the 1970s, legislation and monitoring agencies were instituted in various countries, such as France, Germany, and the United States. [17]

Recent progress

Advancements in computer science found applications designing and managing plants, simplifying calculations and drawings that previously had to be done manually. The completion of the Human Genome Project is also seen as a major development, not only advancing chemical engineering but genetic engineering and genomics as well. [18] Chemical engineering principles were used to produce DNA sequences in large quantities. [19]

Concepts

Chemical engineering involves the application of several principles. Key concepts are presented below.

Plant design and construction

Chemical engineering design concerns the creation of plans, specifications, and economic analyses for pilot plants, new plants, or plant modifications. Design engineers often work in a consulting role, designing plants to meet clients' needs. Design is limited by several factors, including funding, government regulations, and safety standards. These constraints dictate a plant's choice of process, materials, and equipment. [20]

Plant construction is coordinated by project engineers and project managers, [21] depending on the size of the investment. A chemical engineer may do the job of project engineer full-time or part of the time, which requires additional training and job skills or act as a consultant to the project group. In the USA the education of chemical engineering graduates from the Baccalaureate programs accredited by ABET do not usually stress project engineering education, which can be obtained by specialized training, as electives, or from graduate programs. Project engineering jobs are some of the largest employers for chemical engineers. [22]

Process design and analysis

A unit operation is a physical step in an individual chemical engineering process. Unit operations (such as crystallization, filtration, drying and evaporation) are used to prepare reactants, purifying and separating its products, recycling unspent reactants, and controlling energy transfer in reactors. [23] On the other hand, a unit process is the chemical equivalent of a unit operation. Along with unit operations, unit processes constitute a process operation. Unit processes (such as nitration and oxidation) involve the conversion of materials by biochemical, thermochemical and other means. Chemical engineers responsible for these are called process engineers. [24]

Process design requires the definition of equipment types and sizes as well as how they are connected and the materials of construction. Details are often printed on a Process Flow Diagram which is used to control the capacity and reliability of a new or existing chemical factory.

Education for chemical engineers in the first college degree 3 or 4 years of study stresses the principles and practices of process design. The same skills are used in existing chemical plants to evaluate the efficiency and make recommendations for improvements.

Transport phenomena

Modeling and analysis of transport phenomena is essential for many industrial applications. Transport phenomena involve fluid dynamics, heat transfer and mass transfer, which are governed mainly by momentum transfer, energy transfer and transport of chemical species, respectively. Models often involve separate considerations for macroscopic, microscopic and molecular level phenomena. Modeling of transport phenomena, therefore, requires an understanding of applied mathematics. [25]

Applications and practice

Chemical engineers use computers to control automated systems in plants. Chemengg.jpg
Chemical engineers use computers to control automated systems in plants.
Operators in a chemical plant using an older analog control board, seen in East Germany, 1986 Bundesarchiv Bild 183-1986-0205-015, Chemiekombinat Bitterfeld, Produktion von Weisstonern.jpg
Operators in a chemical plant using an older analog control board, seen in East Germany, 1986

Chemical engineers "develop economic ways of using materials and energy". [27] Chemical engineers use chemistry and engineering to turn raw materials into usable products, such as medicine, petrochemicals, and plastics on a large-scale, industrial setting. They are also involved in waste management and research. Both applied and research facets could make extensive use of computers. [26]

Chemical engineers may be involved in industry or university research where they are tasked with designing and performing experiments to create better and safer methods for production, pollution control, and resource conservation. They may be involved in designing and constructing plants as a project engineer. Chemical engineers serving as project engineers use their knowledge in selecting optimal production methods and plant equipment to minimize costs and maximize safety and profitability. After plant construction, chemical engineering project managers may be involved in equipment upgrades, troubleshooting, and daily operations in either full-time or consulting roles. [28]

See also

Associations

Related Research Articles

Engineering Applied science

Engineering is the use of scientific principles to design and build machines, structures, and other items, including bridges, tunnels, roads, vehicles, and buildings. The discipline of engineering encompasses a broad range of more specialized fields of engineering, each with a more specific emphasis on particular areas of applied mathematics, applied science, and types of application. See glossary of engineering.

Mechanical engineering Engineering discipline and economic branch

Mechanical engineering is an engineering branch that combines engineering physics and mathematics principles with materials science to design, analyze, manufacture, and maintain mechanical systems. It is one of the oldest and broadest of the engineering branches.

Paper engineering

Paper engineering is a branch of engineering that deals with the usage of physical science and life sciences in conjunction with mathematics as applied to the converting of raw materials into useful paper products and co-products. The field applies various principles in process engineering and unit operations to the manufacture of paper, chemicals, energy and related materials. The following timeline shows some of the key steps in the development of the science of chemical and bioprocess engineering:

Chemical engineer

In the field of engineering, a chemical engineer is a professional, equipped with the knowledge of chemical engineering, who works principally in the chemical industry to convert basic raw materials into a variety of products and deals with the design and operation of plants and equipment. In general, a chemical engineer is one who applies and uses principles of chemical engineering in any of its various practical applications; these often include

  1. design, manufacture, and operation of plants and machinery in industrial chemical and related processes ;
  2. development of new or adapted substances for products ranging from foods and beverages to cosmetics to cleaners to pharmaceutical ingredients, among many other products ; and
  3. development of new technologies such as fuel cells, hydrogen power and nanotechnology, as well as working in fields wholly or partially derived from chemical engineering such as materials science, polymer engineering, and biomedical engineering.

Process engineering is the understanding and application of the fundamental principles and laws of nature that allow humans to transform raw material and energy into products that are useful to society, at an industrial level. By taking advantage of the driving forces of nature such as pressure, temperature and concentration gradients, as well as the law of conservation of mass, process engineers can develop methods to synthesize and purify large quantities of desired chemical products. Process engineering focuses on the design, operation, control, optimization and intensification of chemical, physical, and biological processes. Process engineering encompasses a vast range of industries, such as agriculture, automotive, biotechnical, chemical, food, material development, mining, nuclear, petrochemical, pharmaceutical, and software development. The application of systematic computer-based methods to process engineering is "process systems engineering".

Unit operation

In chemical engineering and related fields, a unit operation is a basic step in a process. Unit operations involve a physical change or chemical transformation such as separation, crystallization, evaporation, filtration, polymerization, isomerization, and other reactions. For example, in milk processing, the following unit operations are involved: homogenization, pasteurization, and packaging. These unit operations are connected to create the overall process. A process may require many unit operations to obtain the desired product from the starting materials, or feedstocks.

Food engineering

Food engineering is a scientific, academic, and professional field that interprets and applies principles of engineering, science, and mathematics to food manufacturing and operations, including the processing, production, handling, storage, conservation, control, packaging and distribution of food products. Given its reliance on food science and broader engineering disciplines such as electrical, mechanical, civil, chemical, industrial and agricultural engineering, food engineering is considered a multidisciplinary and narrow field. Due to the complex nature of food materials, food engineering also combines the study of more specific chemical and physical concepts such as biochemistry, microbiology, food chemistry, thermodynamics, transport phenomena, rheology, and heat transfer. Food engineers apply this knowledge to the cost-effective design, production, and commercialization of sustainable, safe, nutritious, healthy, appealing, affordable and high-quality ingredients and foods, as well as to the development of food systems, machinery, and instrumentation.

Chemical plant Industrial process plant that manufactures chemicals

A chemical plant is an industrial process plant that manufactures chemicals, usually on a large scale. The general objective of a chemical plant is to create new material wealth via the chemical or biological transformation and or separation of materials. Chemical plants use specialized equipment, units, and technology in the manufacturing process. Other kinds of plants, such as polymer, pharmaceutical, food, and some beverage production facilities, power plants, oil refineries or other refineries, natural gas processing and biochemical plants, water and wastewater treatment, and pollution control equipment use many technologies that have similarities to chemical plant technology such as fluid systems and chemical reactor systems. Some would consider an oil refinery or a pharmaceutical or polymer manufacturer to be effectively a chemical plant.

In chemical engineering, process design is the choice and sequencing of units for desired physical and/or chemical transformation of materials. Process design is central to chemical engineering, and it can be considered to be the summit of that field, bringing together all of the field's components.

Oil terminal

An oil terminal is an industrial facility for the storage of oil, petroleum and petrochemical products, and from which these products are transported to end users or other storage facilities. An oil terminal typically has a variety of above or below ground tankage; facilities for inter-tank transfer; pumping facilities; loading gantries for filling road tankers or barges; ship loading/unloading equipment at marine terminals; and pipeline connections.

In the chemical and process industries, a process has inherent safety if it has a low level of danger even if things go wrong. Inherent safety contrasts with other processes where a high degree of hazard is controlled by protective systems. As perfect safety cannot be achieved, common practice is to talk about inherently safer design. “An inherently safer design is one that avoids hazards instead of controlling them, particularly by reducing the amount of hazardous material and the number of hazardous operations in the plant.”

Warren Kendall Lewis was an MIT professor who has been called the father of modern chemical engineering. He co-authored an early major textbook on the subject which essentially introduced the concept of unit operations. He also co-developed the Houdry process under contract to The Standard Oil Company of New Jersey into modern fluid catalytic cracking with Edwin R. Gilliland, another MIT professor.

<i>Perrys Chemical Engineers Handbook</i>

Perry's Chemical Engineers' Handbook was first published in 1934 and the most current ninth edition was published in July 2018. It has been a source of chemical engineering knowledge for chemical engineers, and a wide variety of other engineers and scientists, through eight previous editions spanning more than 80 years.

<i>Unit Operations of Chemical Engineering</i>

Unit Operations of Chemical Engineering, first published in 1956, is one of the oldest chemical engineering textbooks still in widespread use. The current Seventh Edition, published in 2004, continues its successful tradition of being used as a textbook in university undergraduate chemical engineering courses. It is widely used in colleges and universities throughout the world, and often referred just "McCabe-Smith-Harriott" or "MSH".

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to chemical engineering:

Fluidized bed reactor Reactor carrying multiphase chemical reactions with solid particles suspended in an ascending fluid

A fluidized bed reactor (FBR) is a type of reactor device that can be used to carry out a variety of multiphase chemical reactions. In this type of reactor, a fluid is passed through a solid granular material at high enough speeds to suspend the solid and cause it to behave as though it were a fluid. This process, known as fluidization, imparts many important advantages to an FBR. As a result, FBRs are used for many industrial applications.

Project commissioning Application of a set of engineering techniques and procedures to check, inspect and test every operational component of a project

Project commissioning is the process of assuring that all systems and components of a building or industrial plant are designed, installed, tested, operated, and maintained according to the operational requirements of the owner or final client. A commissioning process may be applied not only to new projects but also to existing units and systems subject to expansion, renovation or revamping.

Industrial engineering Branch of engineering which deals with the optimization of complex processes or systems

Industrial engineering is an engineering profession that is concerned with the optimization of complex processes, systems, or organizations by developing, improving and implementing integrated systems of people, money, knowledge, information and equipment.

Richard A. Williams OBE FREng FTSE, FRSE is a British academic and engineer. He is the Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Heriot-Watt University. He took up this position on 1 September 2015. He is a chemical engineer. He was Vice President and a Trustee of the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Industrial and production engineering (IPE) is an interdisciplinary engineering discipline that includes manufacturing technology, engineering sciences, management science, and optimization of complex processes, systems, or organizations. It is concerned with the understanding and application of engineering procedures in manufacturing processes and production methods. Industrial engineering dates back all the way to the industrial revolution, initiated in 1700s by Sir Adam Smith, Henry Ford, Eli Whitney, Frank Gilbreth and Lilian Gilbreth, Henry Gantt, F.W. Taylor, etc. After the 1970s, industrial and production engineering developed worldwide and started to widely use automation and robotics. Industrial and production engineering includes three areas: Mechanical engineering, industrial engineering, and management science.

References

  1. Cohen 1996, p. 172.
  2. Cohen 1996, p. 174.
  3. Swindin, N. (1953). "George E. Davis memorial lecture". Transactions of the Institution of Chemical Engineers. 31.
  4. Flavell-While, Claudia (2012). "Chemical Engineers Who Changed the World: Meet the Daddy" (PDF). The Chemical Engineer. 52-54. Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 October 2016. Retrieved 27 October 2016.
  5. Reynolds 2001, p. 176.
  6. Cohen 1996, p. 186.
  7. Perkins 2003, p. 20.
  8. Cohen 1996, p. 185.
  9. Ogawa 2007, p. 2.
  10. Perkins 2003, p. 29.
  11. Perkins 2003, p. 30.
  12. Perkins 2003, p. 31.
  13. Reynolds 2001, p. 177.
  14. Perkins 2003, pp. 32–33.
  15. Kim 2002, p. 7S.
  16. Kim 2002, p. 8S.
  17. Perkins 2003, p. 35.
  18. Kim 2002, p. 9S.
  19. American Institute of Chemical Engineers 2003a.
  20. Towler & Sinnott 2008, pp. 2–3.
  21. Herbst, Andrew; Hans Verwijs (Oct. 19-22). "Project Engineering: Interdisciplinary Coordination and Overall Engineering Quality Control". Proc. of the Annual IAC conference of the American Society for Engineering Management 1 ( ISBN   9781618393616): 15–21
  22. "What Do Chemical Engineers Do?".
  23. McCabe, Smith & Hariott 1993, p. 4.
  24. Silla 2003, pp. 8–9.
  25. Bird, Stewart & Lightfoot 2002, pp. 1–2.
  26. 1 2 Garner 2003, pp. 47–48.
  27. American Institute of Chemical Engineers 2003, Article III.
  28. Garner 2003, pp. 49–50.

Bibliography