Chemical Engineering & Mineral Processing in a nutshell

What is chemical engineering?

Chemical engineering relates to the design, management and optimization of processes used to produce valuable products from raw materials. These products are crucially important to almost every sphere of the modern society, be it in the form of basic consumables, commodities, or environmental services. The chemical engineer therefore plays a pivotal role in society and has the opportunity to improve the everyday lives of people!

What is the difference between chemistry and chemical engineering?

Chemists typically investigate chemical phenomena and principles on a small scale while chemical engineers apply such principles in the development and operation of large scale processes. If, for example, a chemist develops a new drug, the chemical engineer might develop methods to mass produce the drug. Such a process would have to ensure that the quality of the drug is maintained, while the production process should also be performed in a safe, environmentally friendly and economical fashion. Essentially, the chemical engineer would need to combine the test-tube information of the laboratory chemist with full-scale engineering principles. It is therefore no surprise that chemical engineering draws from a combination of fields such as chemistry, mathematics, physics, life sciences and economics.

What is mineral processing?

Mineral processing refers to the application of chemical engineering in the mining and minerals industry. More specifically, it involves the design, management and optimization of processes used for the extraction of valuable minerals from ores.

What is process engineering?

Process engineering is an alternative description used to define the broader group of engineers who apply chemical engineering principles in any category of chemical engineering such as petrochemical, biochemical, organic polymers, geopolymers, food and beverages, fertilisers, environmental engineering, mineral processing and many more!

What do chemical engineers do?

Typical job functions of chemical engineers include the following:

  • design processes for conversion of raw materials;
  • improvement of existing processes;
  • coordination of production;
  • management of business units;
  • perform research for the development of novel processes and products;

In addition, chemical engineers furthermore focus on ensuring safe and environmentally friendly processing while also taking economical aspects into consideration.

Where do chemical engineers work?

Chemical engineers can specialise in many areas of expertise. Some of the different sectors that they work in include:

  • petroleum;
  • mining and minerals;
  • fertilisers;
  • food and beverages;
  • pharmaceuticals;
  • paper and pulp; 
  • biotechnology; 
  • energy and environment; 
  • water;
  • consultancy;
  • business and finance.

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