Chemical engineers develop processes and materials for industry and research. Traditionally they have been concerned with the production of economical and high-quality chemical processes for the creation of products, but their work has expanded in recent decades to more public-minded affairs and more research-heavy areas. There are thousands of important techniques used in chemical engineering. Here is a rundown of a few extremely important areas of work.
X Ray Diffraction
X ray diffraction – made possible by equipment such as that sold by malvernpanalytical.com – is an essential technique and process for the analysis of the crystalline construction of materials. X ray diffraction works by exploiting a property held by crystalline structures. The atoms that form crystalline structures will cause a uniform interference to appear on an analyzed x ray beam as a result of their uniform spacing. This uniform spacing is unique to many structures and allows chemical engineers to identify specific materials. Spectral analysis techniques need to be used to make sense of x ray diffraction readings. Widely used in research and industry, x ray diffraction allows for extremely accurate qualitative and quantitative analysis to be made of crystalline materials that would otherwise be rather unknown and unverifiable to quality control and research specialists.
There are many important separation techniques used in chemical engineering. One of the most important areas in which chemical engineering is proving useful is recycling. In the recycling industry, chemical engineers are hard at work developing separation techniques that allow for materials to be split so that they can effectively be melted down and reused. Separation is also extremely important in the petroleum and plastics industries.
Distillation, crystallization, absorption, membrane separation and extraction are all chemical separation processes that have found a great deal of use in industry and research alike.
Process Dynamics And Control
Chemical processes are dynamic. This means that they are liable to change over time. Understanding this dynamic control involves the mathematical modeling of likely changes. Process control is the automation of the regulatory actions needed to keep a chemical engineering project or product stable and consistent despite dynamic changes. In order to be considered chemically pure, a process control needs to be constant and carried out using sound mathematical acumen. Process dynamics can usually be understood using differential equations. Chemical engineers need to be confident in the formulation of these equations if they are to take part in good quality process control practices.
Techniques that involve microfluidic processes are at the forefront of biology, chemistry and chemical engineering. They are one of the key elements in process intensification. The field of microfluidics involves the study and control of fluids in extremely small channels – channels that have diameters of tens to hundreds of micrometers. To put this into context, one hundred micrometers is exactly one thousandth of a millimeter. Microfluidic processes are essential for gene manipulation. The biomolecule and drug discovery areas of pharmaceutical companies rely heavily upon chemical engineers using microfluidic processes.