Setting aside the complex definitions, they usually give to sound sophisticated and all that, chemical and process engineering is simply the branch of engineering that deals with the production of useable household, industrial, agricultural, medical etc. products from non-useable or semi processed raw materials. It is the conversion of coal to electricity for example, Crude oil to petrol and diesel, seed to cooking oil, wood to paper even the sap of a tree bark, or the juice of a plants leaf to medicine... Process engineering is only the mathematics, physics and chemistry of making products that we need for every day usage from….. well raws we couldn’t be able to use for these purposes.
The field transcends even so to energy and energy systems engineering. Design of power generation plants and utilities falls under the broader chemical engineering field as well. Nuclear energy is a rather new and emerging field of engineering as well that also rightly falls under chemical and process engineering. Recently and deservedly so, the thrust has been onto renewable energy resources, and significant advances have been made along sustainable energy generation, from petrol blended with ethanol to diesel blended with biodiesel from soya oil. Again the importance and significance of the field in the renewable energy sector could never be under estimated.
The field is so expanse that in different locales it assumes different names. In the crude oil processing Industry, it assumes the name petroleum engineering, in nuclear energy generation, it is nuclear engineering, and process engineers that specialize in nanotechnology are referred to as Nano engineers. It also branches into process and product engineers, the former being the designers of plant and machinery for reactions, the latter responsible for product formulations.
The terms process and chemical engineer are loosely translated to mean the same, and in every day usage that use is quite acceptable. However as we shall see as we go on, the two are slightly different but for introductory purposes shall be used inter changeably, since either can fill the shoes of the other. These guys are the people who then formulate the products that you need, design the factories that will produce these products for you, all the while trying to keeping the smile on the consumer's faces, business owners and environmentalist’s faces - a sometimes really tough calling by anyone’s standards!
Basically this is what the field is about, how it affects you and me the consumer, and why it is relevant to everyone. Later on we shall see the specifics of example fields; look at differences amongst the different types of chemical and process engineers, specializations and a whole lot of other exciting topics. Energy generation, environmental degradation, global warming.......aarghh i feel excited already..! So keep watching this space as we discover and learn more about this profession and how to get the most out of it!