Chemical Engineering, a profession that is becoming increasingly prominent, requires a highly detailed understanding of the effects and functions of various chemical processes and conducting research for any potential scope of improvement with respect to the methods to increase efficiency. Including but not limited to the above, chemical engineers required to design and implement processes for large scale manufacturing, plan and test the effectiveness of the methods (Aiche.org, 2017). Above all, Chemical Engineering extends beyond the principles of chemistry, physics and mathematics to include biological sciences and environmental sustainability. In essence, it is an emerging field that solves problems that involve the production or use of chemicals, fuel, drugs, food and many other products that are relied upon daily
Environmental Constraints and its Effects
Alongside the soaring population growth, there is an increased demand for these products, which can potentially result in an environmental catastrophe such as pollution and global warming. Therefore, it is crucial that chemical engineers incorporate the ideals of sustainability into processes to minimize adverse environmental impacts. Environmental sustainability ensures that products are manufactured without compromising the limited resources available. Products as a result of environmental sustainability, are designed to reduce numerous factors that contribute to environmental deterioration including greenhouse gases, water consumption and energy (Reyes, 2016).
Energy is essential to life. Without it, many billions of people would be left cold and hungry (Riddell et al., n.d.). Fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal have always been the vital sources of energy. However, they are no longer regarded as optimal choices for the environment due to their production of greenhouse gases, particularly Carbon Dioxide when they are burnt to produce energy. Furthermore, given its finite supply and the growing population, they will soon diminish or may even extinct. As an attempt to avoid this issue and to promote environmental sustainability, the role of chemical engineer is introduced to determine alternative methods to convert energy without fossil fuels.
Chemical Engineering and its Applications
Chemical engineers with their multifaceted expertise, are continuously modifying processes which convert natural resources into energy and various products. Common examples of natural resources such as crude oil and petroleum are viewed to be of little use when in their raw state. Nevertheless, with the knowledge and expertise wielded by chemical engineers, the products created from them are highly valuable. These products include but are not limited to gasoline, diesel, waxes, asphalt and other intermediate products (Riddell et al., n.d.).
Whilst the existence of these processes suggest that we are on the way to minimizing environmental depreciation, chemical engineers are constantly striving to improve these processes by attempting to utilize lesser natural resources. Globally, numerous countries have embarked on this development by switching to renewable forms of energy production. Thailand, for example, has built enormous solar parks (Chadha, 2012) whereas Malaysia has declared itself as key productions sites for solar panels (Muthiah, 2017). Solar panel is a non-polluting source of energy which derives its energy from the sun and is environmentally benign as it does not produce harmful greenhouse gases when producing electricity and reduces the usage of any limited resources (Cass, 2009).
The role that chemical engineers play in sustaining the environment is one of importance in diverse ways. Their unique expertise allows them to develop advanced methods such as producing energy from renewable sources such as solar panels. Hence, they not only reduce the usage of limited natural resources, but also ensure that it does not produce any other intermediate products that may in return harm the environment.