Chemical engineering is the application of science , mathematics and economics to the process of converting raw materials or chemicals into more useful or valuable forms. The term economics is important here.
Chemical Engineering involves the design and maintenance of chemical processes for large-scale manufacture. The actual name isa misnomer as the work of a chemical engineer involves more physics related knowledgethan chemistry . Because the title 'chemical engineer' creates thismisunderstanding, many chemical engineers are employed under the title of 'process engineer'.
The individual processes used by chemical engineers (eg. distillation or chlorination ) are called unit operations and consist of chemical reaction , mass- , heat- and momentum- transfer operations. Unit operations are grouped together in various configurations for thepurpose of chemical synthesis and/or chemical separation .
Two primary physical laws underlying chemical engineering design are Conservation of mass and Conservation of energy . The movement of mass and energy around a chemical process are evaluatedusing mass and energy balances which apply these laws to whole plants, unit operations or discrete parts of equipment. In doingso, Chemical Engineers use principles of thermodynamics , reaction kinetics and transport phenomena . The task of performing these balances is now aided by process simulators, whichare complex software models that can solve mass and energy balances and usually have built-in modules to simulate a variety ofcommon unit operations.
Related fields and topics
Today chemical engineering field is a diverse field covering areas from biotechnology and nanotechnology to mineralprocessing.
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