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The 7 Important Things Chemical Engineering Students Must Have Knowledge in

by Mar 26, 2019Chemical Engineering0 comments

Chemical engineering has always been a stream which had its own importance. Chemical engineers are supposed to have knowledge of the various principles of chemistry, physics, mathematics, and biology. They are the ones who process raw chemicals and convert them into useful products.

They are very much useful in setting up and operating processing plants. They are also responsible for managing the huge amount of chemical hazards which is the by-product of various chemical reactions taking place inside the plant.

Chemical engineers are also employed in the production of chemicals, foods, fuels, medicines, etc. They use their knowledge to maximize the production capacity keeping the product quality intact but minimizing the cost. They also play a vital role in designing various equipment used in plants.

The 7 very important things that you must know as a chemical engineering graduate-

  1. Thermodynamics:

Thermodynamics deals with heat and temperature and what is their connection with work and energy. It is a sub-branch of physics. These quantities are ruled by the 4 laws of thermodynamics.

The four laws of thermodynamics are-

  1. The zeroth law of thermodynamics states that two thermodynamic systems are in thermal equilibrium with each other if they are separately in thermal equilibrium with a third thermodynamic system.
  2. The first law states that energy can neither be produced nor be destroyed; it can only be transformed from one form to another. The total energy remains constant for any process. The amount of heat used in any process is the amount of work done.
  • The second law of thermodynamics states that the entropy of the universe as a remote system will increase with time gaining the highest value at equilibrium. Entropy can never change negatively.
  1. The third law states that the entropy of a system reaches its minimum value as the temperature reaches absolute zero.

Thermodynamics can be further branched into the following:

  • Classical thermodynamics-

Classical thermodynamics describes the states of any thermodynamic system at near equilibrium that uses visible and measurable properties. It is used to study the interchanging of energy, work, and heat.

  • Statistical thermodynamics-

Statistical thermodynamics or statistical mechanics uses the principles of statistics to relate the microscopic properties of an atom to the properties that are visible to human eyes.

  • Chemical thermodynamics

Chemical thermodynamics describes the relationship between energy and chemical reactions or energy and the change in the physical state of a substance.

  • Equilibrium thermodynamics-

It is the study of transferring of matter and energy in thermodynamic systems as they are passing from one state of thermodynamic equilibrium to another.

You must have a clear concept of the principles of thermodynamics in order to work as a chemical engineer.

  1. Fluid mechanics:

Fluid mechanics deals with the mechanism of fluids, that is, liquids, gases, and plasmas. It is the study of the functioning of fluids when they are in motion or at rest.

It can be further divided into fluid statics and fluid dynamics.

  • Fluid Statics-

It is also known as hydrostatics. It deals with the study of the behavior of fluids at rest. It states the circumstances under which a fluid is at rest in equilibrium. It explains the various phenomena of our surroundings, for example, why atmospheric pressure varies with height, why water takes the shape of the container it is kept in, and many more. It is very important for you to know the concept of fluid statics to understand the mechanism of the instruments used for storing and transferring fluids.

  • Fluid dynamics-

It is the study of fluids when they are in motion. It deals with the calculation of various properties of fluids like velocity, density, temperature, etc. Fluid dynamics can be further divided into aerodynamics and hydrodynamics. Aerodynamics deals with the study of the motion of air and gases. Hydrodynamics deals with the study of the motion of liquids. Knowledge of fluid dynamics helps to determine the rate of the flow of petroleum through pipelines, to calculate the movement of aircraft, predict weather changes, etc.

If you want to make a career in chemical engineering then a detailed knowledge of fluid mechanics is very important.

  1. Mass transfer and Heat transfer:


  • Mass transfer-

Mass transfer denotes the actual movement of mass from one place to another. There are various processes through which mass transfer can take place. These processes are evaporation, precipitation, absorption, membrane filtration to name a few.

You will widely use the concept of mass transfer in solving various problems of chemical engineering. It is used in chemical reactions, chemical separations, etc.

The factor that facilitates mass transfer is the difference in chemical potential. A chemical object always flows from an area of high chemical potential to an area of low chemical potential. This theory is mostly used in the extraction of one liquid from another.

  • Heat transfer-

The study of heat transfer deals with the production, use, transformation and exchange of heat or thermal energy. Heat transfer follows the mechanisms of conduction, convection, radiation, and change of state.

When two objects are in physical contact with each other then energy is transmitted between them through the movements of electrons. This is called conduction.

When heat is transferred from one place to another through the motion of fluids then it is called convection.

The transfer of energy through electromagnetic waves is termed as radiation. This occurs in a vacuum.

The change in state of matter revolves around the four basic states of matter- solid, liquid, gas and plasma.

Apart from these, you must also have detailed knowledge of P&ID (Piping and Instrumentation Diagram). You must have the concept of how to read, draw and modify P&ID.

Essential Things Every Chemical Engineering Students Must Know

Chemical engineers by applying the fundamentals of math, physics, biology and chemistry, involve themselves in the production of drugs, food, fuel, chemicals and different other products and solves the problem associated with these.

Starting from doing laboratory experiments followed by applying technology for large scale productions they play a vital role. They design processes and machines for full-scale production, plan and carry out different tests for production methods, operations and treatment of by-products.

What does a chemical engineer do?

  1. They carry out research to find out the improved and advanced manufacturing process.
  2. Initiates various safety measures for the people who are working with harmful chemicals.
  3. Investigates various methods of how effectively components like gases and liquids can be separated. Some of the well-known processes include decantation, filtration, crystallization, fractional distillation.
  4. Generates electric currents with the help of controlled chemical action with the help of sodium chloride solution and electrons.
  5. Process Plant design and equipment layout. The layout defines how supporting structures and machines are needed for a particular process by interconnecting ducts, pipes, conveyors, connections with or without wires, vehicles.
  6. Performance Monitoring and proper tests are carried out to ensure a safe and reliable plant operation.
  7. They look after troubleshooting and analyzing problems related to manufacturing processes.
  8. Integrity and Maintenance of regulations, ensuring compliance with health standards and safety.
  9. Estimating production costs which include raw materials, manufacturing supplies and overall general expenses.

Anyone can’t name any exact particular skills, possessing of which an engineer may get hired in some reputed company. Especially in chemical engineering which has a broad horizon and a great perspective.

Some of the skills one can think which best describes a well sounded chemical engineer.

  • Creativity can bring great changes by applying sufficient knowledge from their background and unique problem-solving techniques in the professional field. For the sake of new discoveries, products and inventions chemical engineers should think creatively.
  • Getting through every unit related to physical quantity like heat transfer, thermodynamics, fluid measurement, kinetics, mole concept, resistance and driving force. Transport phenomena are very important in chemical engineering.
  • Engineering mathematics is of great importance, specially Laplace transforms and memorising entire dimensionless constants.
  • Getting hold of working in the team both outside and inside. Being a good team player can give great success and the ability to work in an organized way saves time and benefits economically.
  • To become a design engineer, a fundamental knowledge of equipment design can be helpful. By mastering every detail on mass transfer anyone can catch the eye. For operations, one can seek a deeper knowledge of fertilizer technology, the technology of the chemical
  • Good grip over mathematics on areas like Geometry Linear, Algebra, Calculus, Differential Equations, Statistics, Algebra, trigonometry and important derivations like Kremsen- Brown Equation, Reynolds Equation, and Navier-Stokes is crucial. Chemical engineers often use in laboratories.
  • Being inquisitive is one of the good sign of an engineer. Chemical engineers should always seek ideas and knowledge. Standing on the 21st century where the whole world relies on digital technology, being tech-savvy and awareness on new technologies can be a plus point. Anyone being patient and calm under advent pressure can be a real hero.
  1. Piping and instrumentation diagram

Able to read, review and draw P&ID is the ultimate knowledge any chemical engineer should possess. Piping and instrumentation are very important. The P&ID diagram is all about how the plant is to be erected, employ and run permanently or it may be an already existing one.

The visual representation is very necessary for maintenance and in the process of modification because it is the replica of the whole physical sequence, different connections, control, basic start-up, regulatory requirements, operational requirements and shutdown schemes. The P&ID diagram represents-Equipment, branches, instrumentation, Reducers, valves, Utilities, Offsite facilities, control interlocks.

Apart from the above skills these three essential skills, every chemical engineering must know in order to succeed

  1. Reading P&ID

Reading P&ID helps in understanding the approach of design intent. Understanding the process and design parameters may help an engineer to draw a better diagram in future. From the diagram, anyone may notice different symbols which represent instruments, pipelines, valves, equipment etc. which varies from one company to another and one client to another. One should refer to the symbols of Instrument Society of America (ISA) for better usage and understanding.

  1. Developing P&ID

Having a graduate degree in chemical engineering and a basic idea of developing P&ID is the best thing one can have. Before framing one, learning the way to read a P&ID is important. Some of the principles one should keep in mind.

  • Ensuring smooth and safe running.
  • Ensuring safety for at least for shut down and start-ups.
  • Safe enough to carry out replacements and maintenance.
  1. Reviewing P&ID

Apart from developing and reading, being a chemical engineer one essential job is to review a P&ID which includes

  • Tagging of all instrumentation.
  • Showing set values of all safety valves.
  • Assuring all safety valves and control valves are in place.
  • Proper numbering, classification and sizing of all lines
  • Lastly, it should be verified that a P&ID is made by abiding the conditions of IMSO (Installation, Maintenance, Safety, and Operation).

Nowadays demand for chemical engineers is quite high created mainly by the large industries. For the processing and synthesis of various materials and chemicals, industries highly depend on chemical engineers. Every year a large number of job opportunities comes from oil industries and chemical energy. In addition to these for industries like pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, environmental engineering and fabrication of electronic device chemical engineers experience first preference with good package. Their knowledge is of great importance when it comes to chemical and physical transformation. 

Author bio:

The author of this article is Professor Clint Damon. He has been working for the past six years with Yale University. He is a fantastic online tutor who is always available for any assistance regarding studies or assignments. Students like his modern approach towards various subjects. He is an expert in the subjects related to chemical engineering. You can easily seek his help if you need any assistance regarding studies or assignments.