Chemical Engineer

Topic: Chemical Engineer...

Chemical Engineer

In the field of engineering, a chemical engineer is the profession in which one works principally in the chemical industry to convert basic raw materials into a variety of products, and deals with the design and operation of plants and equipment to perform such work. In general, a chemical engineer is one who applies and uses principles of chemical engineering in any of various practical applications; primarily with respect to the study of the design, manufacture, and operation of plant and machinery in industrial chemical and related processes. A number of famous or historical chemical engineers can be found in the list of chemical engineers.


The term appeared in print in 1839, though from the context it suggests a person with mechanical engineering knowledge working in the chemical industry. In 1880, George E. Davis wrote in a letter to Chemical News 'A Chemical Engineer is a person who possesses chemical and mechanical knowledge, and who applies that knowledge to the utilisation, on a manufacturing scale, of chemical action.' He proposed the name Society of Chemical Engineers, for what was in fact constituted as the Society of Chemical Industry. At the first General Meeting of the Society in 1882, some 15 of the 300 members described themselves as chemical engineers, but the Society's formation of a Chemical Engineering Group in 1918 attracted 400 members.
In 1924 the Institution of Chemical Engineers adopted the following definition 'A chemical engineer is a professional man experienced in the design, construction and operation of plant and works in which matter undergoes a change of state and composition.' (The first female member joined in 1942.) As can be seen from the later definition, the occupation is not limited to the chemical industry, but more generally the process industries, or other situations in which complex physical and/or chemical processes are to be managed. In 1951 the President of the Institution of Chemical Engineers said in his Presidential Address "I believe most of us would be willing to regard Edward Charles Howard (1774-1816) as the first chemical engineer of any eminence". Others have suggested Johann Rudolf Glauber (1604-1670) for his development of processes for the manufacture of the major industrial acids.


Historically, the chemical engineer has been primarily concerned with process engineering. The modern discipline of chemical engineering, however, encompasses much more than just 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. These products include high performance materials needed for aerospace, automotive, biomedical, electronic, environmental and military applications. Examples include ultra-strong fibers, fabrics, adhesives and composites for vehicles, bio-compatible materials for implants and prosthetics, gels for medical applications, pharmaceuticals, and films with special dielectric, optical or spectroscopic properties for opto-electronic devices. Additionally, chemical engineering is often intertwined with biology and biomedical engineering. Many chemical engineers work on biological projects such as understanding biopolymers (proteins) and mapping the human genome.

Employment and Salaries

In the United States of America, the Department of Labor estimated in 2006 the number of chemical engineers to be 30,000. The average hourly wage for a chemical engineer was $39.23 per hour, but ranged from $24.07 to $57.05 per hour. The median annual salary for a chemical engineer was $78,860, with the middle 80 percent of chemical engineers making between $50,060 and $118,670 annually. Chemical engineering has been cited as the highest-paying degree for first employment of college graduates. Subsequently, a high-end salary grade is common to this profession in the USA. In the UK, the Institution of Chemical Engineers 2006 Salary Survey reported an average over £53,000, with a starting salary for a graduate averaging £24,000.

Chemical Engineer in Coming Years
  1. Resources particularly energy and feed back for the Fertilizers and Heavy Chemical Industries.
  2. Infrastructure for Transportation and Telecommunications.
  3. Protection of the Environment.
  4. Development of Agro Industries where utilization of waste from Agro industries and exploitation of value added products from wastes.
  5. Transformation of Rural Economy, Industrialization and Privatization where the profits are less and consumption is more.
  6. Problems of less Technical context are,
    • The Centre Vs. States
    • Command Economy Vs. Liberalization & Privatization
    • Internal Budget and External Balances
    • World Trade Globalization and relevant s to India 
    • Problem of Indian Competitiveness
The latest research and development have classified the following new industries;
  1. Cryogenics in Chemical Technology
  2. Chemicals from Sea
  3. Air as a Chemical Raw Material
  4. NUPLEXES ( Nuclear Power Agro Industrial Complexes )
  5. Proteins from Petroleum Fermentation and Single Cell Proteins from Animal horns.
  6. Food Industries
  7. Coal Chemicals
  8. Newer Petrochemicals
  9. Pesticides
  10. Pharmaceuticals Industries
  11. Metallurgical Industries
  12. Water treatment & Air Pollution Control
The chemical process industry had its growth from pre scientific chemical industries followed by scientific chemical industry. The growth with restrains, green challenge to chemical industry and the modern separations process involved in the indian chemical industry seen today.

We define Chemical Engineering as a synthesis of chemistry and engineering. A Chemical Engineering therefore carries out on a large scale reactions developed in the laboratory by the chemist.

The Major Areas of Work within Chemical Engineering are,
  • Research
  • Process Development
  • Process Design
  • Evaluation of Design
  • Plant Design
  • Construction
  • Production Supervision
  • Plant Technical Services
  • Sales of the Product
The Research is divided into three categories like Fundamental Research, Exploratory Research and Process Research.