Chemical engineers use chemistry, physics and math along with engineering tools to solve problems relating to the production and use of chemicals. This includes things like refining gasoline and other fuels from petroleum, purifying drinking water, treating waste, recovering raw materials and producing and processing food. Chemical engineers can work in chemical manufacturing, electronics, pollution control, even medicine and food processing.
- Pilot test new methods of manufacturing products, like paper or photographic film, and oversee the implementation of those methods in full-scale production.
- Develop cost-effective processes for recovering raw materials from the ocean or outer space.
- Generate and efficiently mass-produce new medicines.
- Produce new, cleaner-burning fuels, from plants or other renewable resources.
- Design pollution prevention technologies to protect water, air or human health.
Chemical engineers need a four-year college degree. Most have degrees in chemical engineering, although some have specialized degrees in biochemical, petroleum, metallurgical or sanitation engineering.
Most chemical engineers work in manufacturing industries, in research and development labs, production plants or management. Some provide engineering services as consultants in research and testing, design or policy. The environment in which they work and their hours vary with the industry and kind of job.