What Is Chemical Engineering?

Chemical engineering examines methods to develop, manufacture, and utilize chemical and biochemical products. Chemical engineers research chemical combinations with the goal of finding new uses and products for chemical raw materials. Schools offering Engineering & Technology Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Field Overview

Chemical engineering begins with understanding of the basic processes of chemical and biological transformations. Such processes are involved in the manufacturing of chemicals, electronics, food, pharmaceuticals, and biotechnologies. Chemical engineering blends engineering principles and scientific processes, requiring an understanding of chemical reaction mechanisms and the laws and principles of thermodynamics.

Important Facts About Chemical Engineering

Entry-Level Education Bachelor's Degree
Median Salary (2014) $96,940
Job Outlook (2012-2022) +4%
Degrees Bachelor's, Master's, Ph.D.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Important Areas of Study

Kinetic and Mechanical Processes

Chemical engineering requires knowledge of chemical reaction kinetics, including the properties and mechanisms of catalysts and fluid dynamics. The study of fluid mechanics covers macroscopic mass, momentum, and energy balances, along with the dimensional analysis of friction and drag coefficients. Chemical engineers also study polymerization mechanisms, the polymerization process, and the mechanical properties and flow behavior of polymers.

Biochemical Engineering

Within chemical engineering, biochemical engineering is used to understand the behavior and properties of pharmaceuticals, drug delivery systems, and other biopharmaceutical products. The discipline covers biology, modern genetics, the pharmaceutical industry and the design of pharmaceutical facilities, biomechanics and polymer science.

Industries and Applications

Chemical engineers can work in a variety of different areas, including producing chemicals, manufacturing chemical-based products, dealing with by-products, and supervising production. They may work in industries manufacturing chemical products, clothing, electronics, food, energy, and paper.

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