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Chemical and Process Engineering Resources

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Category: Preparing to Become an Engineer
Question: How does chemistry enter into the ChE profession?
Keywords: how,chemistry,enter,engineering,profession
Answer: For example: As a chemical engineer, you may have to separate water and benzene sometime....you had better know how the two interact chemically before you start. Do you know if they are miscible in one another? "Miscible" is a term used to describe two liquids that mix thoroughly....like water and alcohol. But water and oil are "immiscible" in that the oil floats to the top of the water......this is just one example of how chemistry is very important to a chemical engineer. If you're going to be responsible for moving, separating, and reacting chemicals...you better know about the chemicals and how they react to one another first! Some of the chemical knowledge will also come with experience. For example: If someone were to ask you how to remove caffeine from coffee beans, what would you recommend? Experience tells me that there are two basic, industrially accepted methods. One uses a solvent known as methyl chloride and the other uses carbon dioxide under extremely high pressure (supercritical carbon dioxide which is actually a liquid). The use of methyl chloride is an older method and requires additional precautions because methyl chloride is poisonous so one must be sure that is does not contaminate the coffee. Using supercritical carbon dioxide requires more expensive equipment, but the risk on contamination is no longer there because carbon dioxide is not poisonous to humans. Using carbon dioxide to decaffinate coffee has been advertised as natural decaffination....check out the label in the grocery store!