As an industry, chemical engineering is one of the foundational aspects of our society, as it’s chemical engineers that turn the raw materials harvested from the world around us into the endless range of compounds that humans use in their consumer products.
In a world that is bathed in plastic, it’s easy to see why people may have become so used to having plastic and other synthetic materials in their life, that they have forgotten it doesn’t simply materialize like the finished product in its natural form.
It takes a large number of chemical processes, as well as a deep understanding of the desired qualities of the material, to produce just one of the thousands of types of plastic we use on a daily basis.
Of course, on a planet that is suffering from the consequences of a climate crisis, as well as the results of decades of using single-use plastics and other non-recyclable materials, the chemical engineering industry is having to change.
Read on to find out more about how Chemical Engineering is changing as the priorities and demands of the world change too.
Focus on net-zero emissions
As already mentioned, the planet is suffering from the consequences of a climate crisis, much of which has been caused by human industrialization and the carbon-emitting processes that come alongside it.
This means that there is huge pressure on chemical engineering to not only reach net-zero emissions as an industry but also help society overcome emission problems as a whole, by utilizing new, sustainable materials and manufacturing processes to reduce emissions as much as possible.
With so many engineered, synthetic materials such as plastics coming from oil, there will need to be a transition away from a collective reliance on plastics, and a search carried out for identifying alternatives.
Increasing technological needs
As society continues to develop, it’s thought by many that the middle class in developing nations is going to explode in growth in years to come – with more demands than ever for technology such as mobile phones and laptops, as well as food, education resources, and consumer products – all for families that are healthier, better educated and more financially stable than at any time before.
This puts pressure on manufacturers and chemical engineers alike to concentrate on improving the efficiency of their processes, as the demand for products is likely to increase, and this requires investment to deal with while maintaining professional standards.
Technology and software such as XRF Analyzers can automate highly precise quality control processes that improve efficiency and consumer satisfaction.
Smart Water Technologies
In part due to the climate crisis, and also due to the growing population of the planet, water shortages are likely to be more frequent and more widespread in the years to come. This is bad news for everybody, meaning that chemical engineering is required to prepare for a water crisis and implement methods and processes that can reduce its impact as much as possible.
Such processes include a focus on water purification, allowing large numbers of people to consume water free of damaging bacteria or chemicals. Improvements in desalinization would also unlock potentially limitless amounts of water for consumption, while proficient water recycling could also have an impact going forward.