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Topic: Chemistry vs. Chemical Engineering?  (Read 54626 times)

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Offline eazye1334

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Re: Chemistry vs. Chemical Engineering?
« Reply #30 on: November 07, 2012, 02:45:56 PM »
Hey guys, do you know if chemical engineers work in the energy sector except for petroleum?

Do they work in sustainable energy, such as hydro energy, solar energy, wind energy and etc ... nuclear energy etc etc etc

Yes, most definitely. Several courses I took in the process of getting my degree were on alternative energy and green engineering.

Offline fledarmus

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Re: Chemistry vs. Chemical Engineering?
« Reply #31 on: November 07, 2012, 05:33:50 PM »
Hey guys, do you know if chemical engineers work in the energy sector except for petroleum?

Do they work in sustainable energy, such as hydro energy, solar energy, wind energy and etc ... nuclear energy etc etc etc

Hydro energy - not so much. This is almost all mechanical and electrical engineering.
Solar energy - some, in the groups that are designing batteries and I believe a couple of groups working with chemical photoreceptors. Most of those technologies aren't at the production stage, however, and bench stage chemistry doesn't involve much engineering.
Wind energy - again, almost all mechanical and electrical.
Nuclear energy - all nuclear engineering, a sort of hybrid between mechanical engineering and particle physics.

However, there is a lot of demand for chemical engineers in the alternative fuels end of sustainable energy, which you seem to have ignored altogether in your list. Biodiesel processes, ethanol production, methane-to-liquid fuel production, fuel cell development, and chemical energy storage (battery) employ quite a few chemical engineers. Any chemical process developed in a lab that is going into production will require intensive chemical engineering.

Offline alexjordan6

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Re: Chemistry vs. Chemical Engineering?
« Reply #32 on: December 13, 2012, 10:07:19 PM »
I didn't realize a bunch of children run/design chemical plants...

Offline Benzene Martini

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Re: Chemistry vs. Chemical Engineering?
« Reply #33 on: March 21, 2014, 11:03:05 PM »
So besides working at an oil company or a chemical plant, where do chem engineers work?

Offline Corribus

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Re: Chemistry vs. Chemical Engineering?
« Reply #34 on: March 22, 2014, 12:05:53 AM »
The food industry employs a number of them, I believe, because heat transfer is a big part of food processing.
What men are poets who can speak of Jupiter if he were like a man, but if he is an immense spinning sphere of methane and ammonia must be silent?  - Richard P. Feynman

Offline Arkcon

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Re: Chemistry vs. Chemical Engineering?
« Reply #35 on: March 22, 2014, 06:08:41 AM »
So besides working at an oil company or a chemical plant, where do chem engineers work?

Any time a large batch of anything is made, a chemical engineer's skills are needed.  Again, for food processing, but also for any consumer goods -- from household chemicals, to cosmetics or pharmaceuticals.  Trust me, if you can stir something together in a 4 liter beaker, and expect it to scale to a 10,000 liter tank without chemical engineering knowledge, you can expect disappointment.

Browse the questions in this sub-forum.  If you're not a chemical engineer, are these questions trivial to answer?  And the real world applications are often in the question itself.
Hey, I'm not judging.  I just like to shoot straight.  I'm a man of science.

Offline Benzene Martini

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Re: Chemistry vs. Chemical Engineering?
« Reply #36 on: March 22, 2014, 11:24:02 AM »

Any time a large batch of anything is made, a chemical engineer's skills are needed.  Again, for food processing, but also for any consumer goods -- from household chemicals, to cosmetics or pharmaceuticals.  Trust me, if you can stir something together in a 4 liter beaker, and expect it to scale to a 10,000 liter tank without chemical engineering knowledge, you can expect disappointment.

Browse the questions in this sub-forum.  If you're not a chemical engineer, are these questions trivial to answer?  And the real world applications are often in the question itself.

So Chem Engineers are big batch cooks? Got it.

Offline Arkcon

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Re: Chemistry vs. Chemical Engineering?
« Reply #37 on: March 22, 2014, 11:51:11 AM »

So Chem Engineers are big batch cooks? Got it.

On a level, yes.  Also, they have to understand physics concepts like fluid dynamics, and rates of heating, again, for large batches.  Also, smaller batches that have obscure physical properties, like highly viscous solutions.  Or a better example, a solution that changes viscosity as the reaction proceeds, say the a fluid dispersed polymer.
Hey, I'm not judging.  I just like to shoot straight.  I'm a man of science.

Offline DrCMS

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Re: Chemistry vs. Chemical Engineering?
« Reply #38 on: March 22, 2014, 02:08:38 PM »
Any time a large batch of anything is made, a chemical engineer's skills are needed.

I dispute that statement.  In my experience a good chemist with scale up experience can do that and more.

Offline Arkcon

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Re: Chemistry vs. Chemical Engineering?
« Reply #39 on: March 22, 2014, 06:11:14 PM »
I dispute that statement.  In my experience a good chemist with scale up experience can do that and more.

That's fair.  On some level, as best I understand it, chemical engineering is a separate degree, that I suppose could, like anything else, be built from experience.  On the other hand, being so much in demand, its more worthwhile to learn the theory before acquiring the practical experience.
Hey, I'm not judging.  I just like to shoot straight.  I'm a man of science.

Offline eazye1334

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Re: Chemistry vs. Chemical Engineering?
« Reply #40 on: March 24, 2014, 11:07:02 AM »
Saying "batch cooks" isn't really right, as there's more than just batch processes. I've worked on plenty of large continuous processes, say with wiped film evaporators and the like, which is where a lot of the fluid dynamics and heat transfer stuff come into play. I've done some extremely viscous work too, so you're right on that as well.

You'll usually find ChE's around production of all types. Although, a chunk work behind desks and design heat exchangers and process equipment for customers. Also a fair amount are in treatment plants, wastewater and the like.

« Last Edit: March 24, 2014, 11:23:31 AM by eazye1334 »

Offline curiouscat

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Re: Chemistry vs. Chemical Engineering?
« Reply #41 on: March 25, 2014, 02:15:40 AM »
Here's my take on it: Often in process industries you need skills from disparate areas to make the process work. A Chemical Engineer's key value is that he can be the guy who knows enough to co-ordinate these otherwise distinct skillsets and professionals.

Say you have an electrical engineer wanting to spec out his motors and wiring. The structural guy needs his loads to design his beams. The controls engineer wants to know what exactly to control and what are the alarm settings. The chemist wants to keep the reaction below -10 C but can't be bothered to calculate what size of a chilling plant we need. The Chilling Plant vendor makes pre-packaged skids but his spec. sheet has 20 questions the chemist cannot answer (e.g. floor loads). The Finance guys want a number for how much money this will all cost. EPA and OSHA have compliance checks to fulfill. The Industrial Hygenist will sample the plant but left to himself he'll probably fall into a construction pit or something.

In a mad-house like this the Chem. Engineer is the guy who is NOT an expert in any of these areas but knows enough to talk to the experts and make things work. In principle at least. :)

Offline curiouscat

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Re: Chemistry vs. Chemical Engineering?
« Reply #42 on: March 25, 2014, 02:21:39 AM »
Any time a large batch of anything is made, a chemical engineer's skills are needed.

I dispute that statement.  In my experience a good chemist with scale up experience can do that and more.

I've seen a good operator (High School Ed.) with 40 years experience do more than both. But I think that's besides the point.

Apples for apples, a chemist excels at certain things and a Chem. Engineer at others.  I think of them as complimentary not competing.

It's a fact that the average Chemical Engineer couldn't design an organic synthesis worth crap for you. OTOH it's also a fact that the average chemist cannot spec. out a relief valve or do a pressure vessel code calculation. To each his own. 

Offline curiouscat

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Re: Chemistry vs. Chemical Engineering?
« Reply #43 on: March 25, 2014, 02:24:57 AM »
So besides working at an oil company or a chemical plant, where do chem engineers work?

Semiconductors hires a lot. Tons work at Fabs at Intel / Infinion etc.

Equipment manufacturers and EPC contractors also hire some. Plant and process design. Many somehow find their way into IP law and patent firms. Pharma has a bunch too. Cosmetics, detergents and other consumer goods firms have a bunch too e.g. unilever, P&G etc.

Offline DrCMS

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Re: Chemistry vs. Chemical Engineering?
« Reply #44 on: March 25, 2014, 07:06:35 AM »
The chemist wants to keep the reaction below -10 C but can't be bothered to calculate what size of a chilling plant we need

I think you're being a bit too kind I'd say too many would not know how to work it out even though it is a pretty simple calculation.  The training of chemists with regards to process safety is inadequate but that is because the academics in charge of the design of chemistry courses know sod all about the real world their students are going to end up working in.  Thankfully my course did have extra modules on industry and once I was working in process development and scale up I learned more of these important aspects to consider and include in the overall design and scale up work.  If this is not done at this stage it is too late to try to get a chemical engineer to "fix" it later.

In a mad-house like this the Chem. Engineer is the guy who is NOT an expert in any of these areas but knows enough to talk to the experts and make things work. In principle at least. :)

Unfortunately the British chemical engineers I've dealt with thought they were an expert in all those things and more but knew so little that in telling everyone else what to do made it very obvious they were arrogant useless idiots.  Maybe its the UK training of chemical engineers that is the problem as the German ones I've worked with are really very very good.  I've not worked with any US trained chemical engineers only chemists.  We have however the same experience of the Health and Safety / Industrial Hygenist staff.

My experience is fitting a new process into an existing plant with stirred tank reactors.  Here is is important to know the capabilities of the current plant and modify the process to fit within the save operating envelope i.e. changing to a 5 hour feed from a 2 hour one to match the cooling ability of the reactor or increasing the solvent content etc.  Quite often it's not done for safety at the initial pilot plant scale up steps but with an eye on the scale & particular reactor it is expected to operate in regular production.  If you do not make the changes early enough in the development you get "locked" into a particular process by your customers quality and management of change systems. 

I recognise that I do not have anywhere near enough knowledge to design the optimum new plant and especially not a continuous processing plant. 

My experience is that there is a lot more situations in which a new process is being made in an old plant than there are new plants being designed and built to make a new (or old) product. 

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