What is chemical engineering?

What is chemical engineering?

Chemical engineering is a term used to describe the process of large-scale experiment, production, transformation and application of chemicals, materials and energy. It usually starts with chemists in the laboratory and develops into engineers in large factories.

Chemical engineering is more accurate in describing the scale and industry of chemical products. This includes looking at things like thermodynamics, flow rates and heat exchangers. When a product expands from experimental stage to full scale, it will bring new challenges, which need to be solved by chemical engineers, scientists and chemists.

Most of the output of chemical engineers is obvious in our daily life: cosmetics, fuel, washing powder, medicine and clothing. There are others that are less impressive, but crucial: think of water purification technology, industrial materials, optical equipment, military technology, and coatings.

Chemical industry and R & D

For tax purposes, research and development (R & D) can be defined as taking risks when trying to address technical or scientific uncertainties. It’s quite abstract, and we often advise our clients to break away from the traditional stereotype of laboratory scientists in white coats.

But in the case of chemical research, this may be the image imagined! However, the same applies to the work of chemical engineers in factories trying to solve practical problems.

In the UK, the R & D sector receives a tax credit, which will help companies recover some of their spending from HMRC – funds that could spark the next big project or fund the final effort to produce extraordinary results.

Typical examples of R & D in chemical industry

Innovative work in the chemical industry may include activities eligible for R & D tax credits. The types of jobs that may meet the requirements include:

We have made progress in the field of chemistry by experimenting with chemical structure.

Develop new or improved materials for manufacturing.

Design innovative coatings, such as optical coatings and non stick coatings.

Solve the field technical problems in chemical production process.

Create new polymers for custom projects.

Environmental monitoring and analysis technology, such as the impact of hydraulic fracturing on the environment.

Develop materials for extreme environments, such as space, heat, and high ionizing radiation.

Improve perfume, make it more durable, or reduce sensitivity, or develop new fragrances.

Work with bulk chemicals and petrochemicals, such as in natural gas and oil refineries. For example, focus on process improvement to make it safer, more efficient, cleaner, more economical, and meet the changing market demand

Developing Pharmaceuticals – please refer to our article on R & D in pharmaceutical supply chain.

Develop pesticides.

Develop recyclable materials.

Development cycle of chemical products

R & D takes place in the development cycle of a new chemical product. In the next section, we will focus on the different R & D that may occur at each broad stage.

The first stage: research and discovery

It all starts with research. Several concepts have been explored – such as target compounds, material selection or drug activity. That narrows it down, and then there’s a progression. Then we go into the discovery and synthesis phase, which usually involves changing the structure or formula of the target molecule and testing the effect. This will involve screening in the laboratory and by chemists.

The second stage – Test amplification

This phase is still based on chemistry and involves expansion to pilot plants. This is an opportunity to develop and optimize the product production process.

The third stage: full scale production

With the development of chemical engineering, the production scale has been expanded. In this stage, due to the different scale, there are new problems, such as different heating and cooling rates.

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