What is chemical engineering?

Ever wondered how a fuel cell generates electricity ? How it’s possible to make food stay fresh for longer? How a pharmaceutical breakthrough is scaled up to treat the global population? Or how water in a treatment plant is made safe to drink? This is where chemical engineering comes in.

Chemical engineering is the ‘engineering of chemistry’. At its simplest, chemical engineering is the science of transformation, converting one thing to another. Chemical engineers change raw materials into useful, everyday consumer products, focusing on safety, efficiency, and sustainability as their key priorities.

Our society heavily relies on the work of chemical, biochemical and process engineers, as they create and build products, processes and materials that are essential for powering the modern world. The food and drink we consume, the energy and fuels we use, the silicon chips in our electronics, and the medicines we take all depend on their technical skills. Chemical engineers also help manage resources, protect the environment, and control essential health and safety procedures.

The world's ambition to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) needs chemical engineers. Leading the practical application of new and emerging technologies, chemical engineers are playing a vital role in addressing the energy transition towards a net zero future, the need for sustainable food and water supplies, and the provision of global healthcare solutions.

Chemical, biochemical and process engineers are uniquely placed to contribute to the delivery of a sustainable future for us all, and IChemE exists to support the profession to achieve this mission, benefitting members, society and the environment.

Want to know more?

Watch Serving Society - a programme exploring chemical engineers' contribution to the world's biggest challenges.

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