Chemical Engineering

  • Thermodynamics
  • Fluid Mechanics and Solid Handling
  • Mass Transfer
  • Instrumentation and Process Control
  • Petroleum Refining Engineering
  • Renewable Sources of Energy
  • Heat Transfer
  • Economics
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Materials of Construction
  • Chemical Technology
  • Fuels and Combustion
  • Fertilizer Technology
  • Nuclear Engineering
  • Chemical Reaction Engineering

What Is Chemical Engineering?

Chemical engineering is the branch of engineering that deals with chemical production and the manufacture of products through chemical processes. This includes designing equipment, systems and processes for refining raw materials and for mixing, compounding and processing chemicals to make valuable products. 

George E. Davis, an English engineer, is credited with founding the field of chemical engineering in the late 19th century. He published the first truly comprehensive overview of the practice in his two-volume “Handbook of Chemical Engineering” (Davis Bros., 1901; revised 1904), based on a series of 12 lectures he gave at the Manchester School of Technology (now part of the University of Manchester). Interestingly, he never taught another course in his lifetime, opting to devote his career to consulting. His handbook, however, would serve as the fundamental text for chemical engineering studies for decades to come. 

What do chemical engineers do?

Chemical engineers apply the principles of chemistry, biology, physics and math to solve problems that involve the production or use of chemicals, fuel, drugs, food and many other products, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). 

Chemical engineers work in a variety of fields, according to the BLS. For instance, they may work at a petroleum refinery to turn crude oil into gasoline, jet fuel, diesel fuel, lubricating oil, solvents and petrochemicals; at a fertilizer plant to produce ammonium nitrate, or at a personal-care product manufacturer to mix dozens of ingredients to produce shampoo or skin lotion.