Chemical engineering

Last updated
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 branch of engineering that 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 utilisation of nano-technology and nano-materials in the laboratory to large-scale industrial processes that convert chemicals, raw materials, living cells, microorganisms, and energy into useful forms and products.

Contents

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.

Chemical engineers typically hold a degree in Chemical Engineering or Process Engineering. Practising 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 for 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

Chemical engineering emerged upon the development of unit operations, a fundamental concept of the discipline of chemical engineering. Most authors agree that Davis invented the concept of unit operations if not substantially developed it. [8] He gave a series of lectures on unit operations at the Manchester Technical School (later part of University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology and now the University of Manchester) in 1887, considered to be one of the earliest such about chemical engineering. [9] Three years before Davis' lectures, Henry Edward Armstrong taught a degree course in chemical engineering at the City and Guilds of London Institute. Armstrong's course failed simply because its graduates were not especially attractive to employers. Employers of the time would have rather hired chemists and mechanical engineers. [5] Courses in chemical engineering offered by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the United States, Owens College in Manchester, England, and University College London suffered under similar circumstances. [10]

Students inside an industrial chemistry laboratory at MIT MIT Industrial Chemistry Lab.gif
Students inside an industrial chemistry laboratory at MIT

Starting from 1888, [11] Lewis M. Norton taught at MIT the first chemical engineering course in the United States. Norton's course was contemporaneous and essentially similar to Armstrong's course. Both courses, however, simply merged chemistry and engineering subjects along with product design. "Its practitioners had difficulty convincing engineers that they were engineers and chemists that they were not simply chemists." [5] Unit operations was introduced into the course by William Hultz Walker in 1905. [12] By the early 1920s, unit operations became an important aspect of chemical engineering at MIT and other US universities, as well as at Imperial College London. [13] The American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), established in 1908, played a key role in making chemical engineering considered an independent science, and unit operations central to chemical engineering. For instance, it defined chemical engineering to be a "science of itself, the basis of which is ... unit operations" in a 1922 report; and with which principle, it had published a list of academic institutions which offered "satisfactory" chemical engineering courses. [14] Meanwhile, promoting chemical engineering as a distinct science in Britain led to the establishment of the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) in 1922. [15] IChemE likewise helped make unit operations considered essential to the discipline. [16]

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. [17] Along with other novel concepts, such as process systems engineering (PSE), a "second paradigm" was defined. [18] [19] Transport phenomena gave an analytical approach to chemical engineering [20] while PSE focused on its synthetic elements, such as control system and process design. [21] Developments in chemical engineering before and after World War II were mainly incited by the petrochemical industry, [22] 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. [23] Meanwhile, progress in polymer science in the 1950s paved way for the "age of plastics". [24]

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. [25] 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. [26]

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. [27] Chemical engineering principles were used to produce DNA sequences in large quantities. [28]

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, specification, 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 a number of factors, including funding, government regulations and safety standards. These constraints dictate a plant's choice of process, materials and equipment. [29]

Plant construction is coordinated by project engineers and project managers [30] 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. [31]

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. [32] 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 material by biochemical, thermochemical and other means. Chemical engineers responsible for these are called process engineers. [33]

Process design requires the definition of equipment types and sizes as well as how they are connected together 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 modified 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. [34]

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". [36] 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. [35]

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, process changes, troubleshooting, and daily operations in either full-time or consulting roles. [37]

See also

Associations

Related Research Articles

Engineering An 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.

Paper engineering science of paper and papermaking

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 professional in the field of chemical engineering

In the field of engineering, a chemical engineer is a professional, who is equipped with the knowledge of chemical engineering, 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.

A Bachelor of Engineering is a first professional undergraduate academic degree awarded to a student after three to five years of studying engineering at an accredited university. In the UK, a B.Eng. degree will be accredited by one of the Engineering Council's professional engineering institutions as suitable for registration as an incorporated engineer or chartered engineer with further study to masters level. In Canada, the degree from a Canadian university can be accredited by the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board (CEAB). Alternatively, it might be accredited directly by another professional engineering institution, such as the US-based Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). The B.Eng. contributes to the route to chartered engineer (UK), registered engineer or licensed professional engineer and has been approved by representatives of the profession.

Process engineering is the understanding and application of the fundamental principles and laws of nature that allow us 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".

Łódź University of Technology technical university in Łódź, Poland

Lodz University of Technology (TUL) was created in 1945 and has developed into one of the biggest technical universities in Poland. Originally located in an old factory building, today covering nearly 200,000 sq. meters in over 70 separate buildings, the majority of them situated in the main University area. Almost 15,000 students are currently studying at the University. The educational and scientific tasks of the University are carried out by about 3,000 staff members.

Unit operation 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

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, homogenization, pasteurization, and packaging are each unit operations which 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 field of applied physical sciences which combines science, microbiology, and engineering education for food and related industries

Food engineering is a multidisciplinary field which combines microbiology, applied physical sciences, chemistry and engineering for food and related industries. Food engineering includes, but is not limited to, the application of agricultural engineering, mechanical engineering and chemical engineering principles to food materials. Food engineers provide the technological knowledge transfer essential to the cost-effective production and commercialization of food products and services. Physics, chemistry, and mathematics are fundamental to understanding and engineering products and operations in the food industry.

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.

Chemical engineering is a discipline that was developed out of those practicing "industrial chemistry" in the late 19th century. Before the Industrial Revolution, industrial chemicals and other consumer products such as soap were mainly produced through. While using these chemicals, workers became very sick, so they used different ines in later years. batch processing. Batch processing is labour-intensive and individuals mix predetermined amounts of ingredients in a vessel, heat, cool or pressurize the mixture for a predetermined length of time. The product may then be isolated, purified and tested to achieve a saleable product. Batch processes are still performed today on higher value products, such as pharmaceutical intermediates, speciality and formulated products such as perfumes and paints, or in food manufacture such as pure maple syrups, where a profit can still be made despite batch methods being slower and inefficient in terms of labour and equipment usage. Due to the application of Chemical Engineering techniques during manufacturing process development, larger volume chemicals are now produced through a continuous "assembly line" chemical processes. The Industrial Revolution was when a shift from batch to more continuous processing began to occur. Today commodity chemicals and petrochemicals are predominantly made using continuous manufacturing processes whereas speciality chemicals, fine chemicals and pharmaceuticals are made using batch processes.

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.”

Trevor Kletz British chemical engineers

Trevor Asher Kletz, OBE, FREng, FRSC, FIChemE was a prolific British author on the topic of chemical engineering safety. He is credited with introducing the concept of inherent safety, and was a major promoter of Hazop. He is listed in The Palgrave Dictionary of Anglo-Jewish History.

<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 seven previous editions spanning more than 70 years.

A hazard and operability study (HAZOP) is a structured and systematic examination of a complex planned or existing process or operation in order to identify and evaluate problems that may represent risks to personnel or equipment. The intention of performing a HAZOP is to review the design to pick up design and engineering issues that may otherwise not have been found. The technique is based on breaking the overall complex design of the process into a number of simpler sections called 'nodes' which are then individually reviewed. It is carried out by a suitably experienced multi-disciplinary team (HAZOP) during a series of meetings. The HAZOP technique is qualitative, and aims to stimulate the imagination of participants to identify potential hazards and operability problems. Structure and direction are given to the review process by applying standardised guide-word prompts to the review of each node. The relevant international standard calls for team members to display 'intuition and good judgement' and for the meetings to be held in 'a climate of positive thinking and frank discussion'.

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

Institution of Chemical Engineers organization

The Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) is a global professional engineering institution with over 37,000 members in over 100 countries worldwide. It was founded in 1922 and awarded a Royal Charter in 1957.

Francis Pearson Lees, usually known as Frank Lees, was a chemical engineer and a Professor at Loughborough University who is noted for his contribution to the field of industrial safety.

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.

Donald Cole Freshwater, known as Don Freshwater, was a British professor of chemical engineering.

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. 1 2 3 Reynolds 2001, p. 176.
  6. Cohen 1996, p. 186.
  7. Perkins 2003, p. 20.
  8. Cohen 1996, pp. 172–173.
  9. Cohen 1996, p. 175.
  10. Cohen 1996, p. 178.
  11. Cohen 1996, p. 180.
  12. Cohen 1996, p. 183.
  13. Cohen 1996, p. 184.
  14. Cohen 1996, p. 187.
  15. Cohen 1996, p. 189.
  16. Cohen 1996, p. 190.
  17. Cohen 1996, p. 185.
  18. Ogawa 2007, p. 2.
  19. Perkins 2003, p. 29.
  20. Perkins 2003, p. 30.
  21. Perkins 2003, p. 31.
  22. Reynolds 2001, p. 177.
  23. Perkins 2003, pp. 32–33.
  24. Kim 2002, p. 7S.
  25. Kim 2002, p. 8S.
  26. Perkins 2003, p. 35.
  27. Kim 2002, p. 9S.
  28. American Institute of Chemical Engineers 2003a.
  29. Towler & Sinnott 2008, pp. 2–3.
  30. 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
  31. "What Do Chemical Engineers Do?".
  32. McCabe, Smith & Hariott 1993, p. 4.
  33. Silla 2003, pp. 8–9.
  34. Bird, Stewart & Lightfoot 2002, pp. 1–2.
  35. 1 2 Garner 2003, pp. 47–48.
  36. American Institute of Chemical Engineers 2003, Article III.
  37. Garner 2003, pp. 49–50.

Bibliography