The work of an engineer encompasses the devising of ways and means to work out a process that is practicable. There is a difference between the chemist working on a laboratory bench, and a chemical engineer. The easiest method of manufacture on a laboratory bench will not necessarily be the most economical method for a manufacturing plant. It is easy to create sulphuric acid in the laboratory working upwards from sulphur. However, to create the same in an industrial process involves working with large masses of raw materials and heat in a continuing process.
Chemical Engineering largely involves the design and maintenance of chemical processes for large-scale manufacture. Chemical engineers in this branch are usually employed under the title of process engineer. The individual processes used by chemical engineers (eg. distillation or filtration) are called unit operations and consist of chemical reaction, mass-, heat- and momentum- transfer operations. Unit operations are grouped together in various configurations for the purpose of chemical synthesis and/or chemical separation. Some processes are a combination of intertwined transport and separation unit operations, (e.g. reactive distillation). The chemical engineer heeds the three primary laws of conservation of mass, of heat and momentum. Many of these complex calculations can be done on a computer now.
Chemical engineering encompasses much more than process engineering. Chemical engineers are now engaged in the development and production of a diverse range of products, as well as in commodity and specialty chemicals, and all types of materials research. These products include high performance materials needed for aerospace, automotive, biomedical, electronic, environmental and military applications. Other products include special fabrics, adhesives, composites for vehicles, material for implantation in human body. Recently, biomedical research and biotechnology have been using chemical engineering.
In this section of the webdirectory, we provide links to many chemical engineering services and related resources.