What is chemical engineering?

Modern society relies on the work of chemical, biochemical and process engineers - they help manage resources, protect the environment and control health and safety procedures, while developing the processes that make the products we desire or depend on.


Chemical engineering is all about changing raw materials into useful products you use every day in a safe and cost-effective way. For example: petrol, plastics and synthetic fibres such as polyester and nylon, all come from oil. 

Chemical engineers conceive and design processes to produce, transform and transport materials - beginning with experimentation in the laboratory followed by implementation of the technology in full-scale production.

Chemical engineers understand how to alter the chemical, biochemical or physical state of a substance, to create everything from face creams to fuels.

The products most commonly associated with chemical engineering are petroleum and gas but also include consumer goods, such as shampoo, washing powders, pharmaceuticals and food and drink.

Chemical engineers working in industry investigate the creation of new polymeric materials with important electrical, optical or mechanical properties. This requires attention not only to the synthesis of the polymer, but also to the flow and forming processes necessary to create a final product.

In with biological engineering and biotechnology, chemical engineers help design production facilities that use microorganisms and enzymes to synthesise new drugs to keep us all healthy.

Problems in environmental engineering that engage chemical engineers include the development of processes (e.g. catalytic converters, effluent treatment facilities) to minimise the release of, or deactivate, products harmful to the environment.

In addition to these careers in the chemical, oil and gas, pharmaceutical and sustainable energy industries, chemical engineers enjoy increasing opportunities in electronic device fabrication and environmental engineering.

As a Sheffield Made Chemical Engineer you’re going to be in great demand because in a vast number of industries chemical engineering influences numerous areas of technology. 

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