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Roles of Chemical Engineering in Chemical Industry By

Irawan Setiadi


what is chemical engineering

Chemical engineering is a discipline influencing numerous areas of technology.In broad terms, chemical engineers are responsible for the conception and design of processes for the purpose of production, transformation and transportation of materials. This activity begins with experimentation in the laboratory and is followed by implementation of the technology to full scale production. The large number of industries which depend on the synthesis and processing of chemicals and materials place the chemical engineer in great demand.; In addition to traditional examples such as the chemical, energy and oil industries, opportunities in biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, electronic device fabrication, and environmental engineering are increasing. The unique training of the chemical engineer becomes essential in these areas whenever processes involve the chemical or physical transformation of matter. For example, chemical engineers working in the chemical industry investigate the creation of new polymeric materials with important electrical, optical or mechanical properties. This requires attention not only to the synthesis of the polymer, but also to the flow and forming processes necessary to create a final product. In biotechnology, chemical engineers have responsibilities in the design of production facilities to use microorganisms and enzymes to synthesize new drugs. Problems in environmental engineering that engage chemical engineers include the development of processes (catalytic converters, effluent treatment facilities) to minimize the release of or deactivate products harmful to the environment. To carry out these activities, the chemical engineer requires a complete and quantitative understanding of both the engineering and scientific principles underlying these technological processes. This is reflected in the curriculum of the chemical engineering department which includes the study of applied mathematics, material and energy balances, thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, energy and mass transfer, separations technologies, chemical reaction kinetics and reactor design, and process design. These courses are built on a foundation in the sciences of chemistry, physics and biology.

What is Chemical Engineering doing at Industry? > Conception and design > operation and analysis > Evaluation > Problem Solving


Conception and design

Chemical Engineers activity concerned with developing processes and designing and operating plants to change materials' physical or chemical states to something useful and have more value . In conception and design project , they have to conception and design of process and control systems with the effective operation of complex plant and processes. As example , they are planning to build a fertilizer industry that consist of ammonia, urea and utility plants that have production capacity 1.000.000 ton/year with project value of $ 100.000.000,. They can design plant such as, oil and gas industry, Fertilizer, cement, petrochemical and Chemical engineers design not only in the chemical and oil industries but also in such processing industries as foods, paper, textiles, plastics, nuclear, and biotechnology.

Operation and analysis In the operation of chemical plants known five types of operating conditions: 1. Start-up, a condition in which the plant began operation after experiencing annual improvements, 2. Normal, a condition after start up finish marked the fulfillment of product specifications as desired, 3. Shutdown, which is a condition to stop the factory in accordance with the procedure until the plant completely stopped because of the need for improvement, 4. Emergency, which is an unusual condition that requires prompt action to avoid a higher level of risk, and 5. Malfuction, a condition in which the operating unit is not functioning as it should.

All five of the above conditions can not be tested at the factory to be normal, especially for a new operator while on-the-job training. It required a simulator (software) to predict phenomena in these conditions. Some of the simulator used is Aspen plus, Hysis, CHEMCAD, Pro II, etc.. Simulator can be studied phenomena and processes as appropriate character.

Every Hour operator or engineer observe the operation in control room if happens something wrong or not normal. From any conditions The Chemical engineers have to analysis and take decision based on Condition in each unit operation or all processes.

Evaluation The next task of a Chemical Engineers is Evaluation, Chemical Engineers have to evaluation performance Every unit processes and give the solution to increase the performance and integration with another units so that resulting maximum product in The end of processes.

Regularly, Chemical engineers do evaluation once a month , or more often depend on the unit condition. For example, Process engineer evaluation ammonia converter in fertilizer industry. ammonia converter is an unit that product ammonia (NH3) from Nitrogen (N2) and Hydrogen (H2). Main reaction : 3 H2 (g) + N2 (g) 2 NH3 (g) DH (500oC) = -26 Kcal

Pressure and Temperature are main condition operation that impact on performance ammonia converter . another condition operation can be impact to the performance are amount of gas make up, inert contain (Ar, CH4), Rasio H2/N2 , consentration NH3 inlet, activity catalyst and temperature inlet converter. Ammonia Converter unit must have convertion value about 15 % until 25 %, if below this range this unit have to evaluated and searched the real problem that effect the unit.

Figure 1. NH3 Content Vs Temperature Evaluation in ammonia converter always see about NH3 content outlet the converter , temperature and pressure in every bed converter. And if any condition have set but result low conversion probably the problem is in catalysts. Problem Solver As an engineer especially process engineer we should give the solutions if the problem disturb the process and then effect the production . the problem that disturb the process in industry can decrease the production and finally implication with profit of company. Therefore, the industry needs skill and professional engineers. In this case, there was a problem in HRU (Hydrogen Recovery Unit) in fertilizer industry. HRU function is to concreate Hydrogen to 92 % then send Hydrogen to ammonia converter to be make up gas. The problem is clogged pipe caused by water and Argon contain in pipe, the water and argon change form liquid to Ice because temperature in pipe up to 1920 C and both of them pass the freezing point . The water from molecular sieve, molecular sieve at HRU have function to take ammonia with water and then send ammonia (NH3) to urea plant.

HRU function is to concreate Hydrogen to 92 % then send Hydrogen to ammonia converter Clogged pipe can make disadvantage about 50 Ton/day ammonia. And this moment absolutely do not want by this factory. From this case, I tried to solve this problem .

Fuel gas





Syn gas



P-4 P-4

LCA 0702

Pipa tersumbat

Figure 2. Scheme HRU We can see in this figure, effect from clogged pipe , methane gas could no send to line fuel gas . and finally HRU must shut down to discard the ice.

Flare system



P-79 P-75


P-65 P-70

P-66 V-6 P-13







LCA 0702


V-2 V-8



Figure 3. Solution for HRU From this figure I tried to give solution with make two pipe V-1 and V-2. V-1 is the HRUs pipe that use daily until the pipe clogged with ice . after the pipe in V-1 stopped we will close V-1 and open V-2 . when V-2 open, we use steam to make ice melting into liquid again and after the pipe in V-1 can use again we open the V-1 and then close V-2 . so, the function V-2 is as an emergency pipe. I hope with this solution HRU may continue everysecond without shutdown.

Tools Of Chemical Engineer Chemical Engineering Tools for someone other than the chemical engineering may only 6 pieces word that can be heard in daily life, do not give a lot of sense. But for us the chemical engineering, Chemical Engineering Tools are like PANCASILA for Indonesia. Guide to life in the world of chemical engineering. Obviously we are already know and understand what it is Chemical Engineering Tools, but it helps us a little revew here: 1. Mass Balance Mass balance is the most fundamental in Chemical Engineering Tools, we learn the lesson the first time in Neraca massa dan energi , it can simply be said that the total mass entering the system will be equal to the mass of discharge although this type of compounds is different, here are the system tools or factory overalls . in detail mass balance can also be a balance of the elements that, if there is a compound consisting of elements eg C, H, O then the mass of the element C enter C out = mass of elements, as well as elements of H and O. 2. Energy balance Energy balance learn about energy, we learned many lessons on heat transfer and thermodynamics. in principle: total energy in + generated energy total energy outenergy transformed = accumulated energy. Energy can be generated from chemical compounds such as combustion or other chemical reactions. Energy in a system can be detected by the system temperature, Energy may be transformed from heat to motion, from electricity to heat, but the end result will be the same amount. 3. Equilibrium Equilibrium is one of the Grace of God in the world, no day no night, there is good there must be bad, there is definitely no sad. favors balance in chemical engineering refers to the point character as will be static, but it is not static. Equilibrium is when the rate of mass transfer / heat of the two systems have the same speed, the amount of the two systems do not have the same equilibrium. Equilibrium can be a reaction equilibrium, phase equilibrium, and others. 4. Rate process Rate Process (transfer process) is a guide to study and analyze the speed of the process of mass transfer and heat transfer. We have learned in the lesson Transfer Process and I think this is heart from Chemical engineering and it is very important . honestly this is the most difficult to study in Chemical Engineering.

5. Economy In matters of this life, we must fully pay attention to the economic aspects, specially in the field of engineering any clams that we design, we must always take into account the production of the economy. Chemical engineering is a science that are open minded or science to solve a problem can be done in various ways, which optimized the living is easy and profitable as economic hard-designing what we plainly obvious that we know will lose money ? 6. Humanity Humanity requires that we as chemical engineering must always consider the environment and social aspects in running our profession, must take responsibility for the social and environmental risks in everything we do.

Tools Of Chemical Engineer is nethermost skill that have to have by a chemical engineers. Beside that the chemical engineers should know about another knowledge like waste water treatment, unit operation, instrumentation and control, polymer, thermodynamics etc. Another basic science and technology should know even advance science and technology.

Optimization As a chemical engineer, is also required to increase the production of the impact on industry profits. while the problems of chemical processes that cause the system does optimization opportunities, how to formulate the optimization problem and how to solve problems step-by-step in order to obtain the most favorable conditions (optimal). chemical process optimization problems include: optimization of functions without restriction (unconstraint function) , linear programming, nonlinear programming, and programming discrete-mixture at various areas of chemical process systems. process optimization may also how to use computer computational resolution.

Figure 4. Some point optimization

Research and Development A chemical engineer is also required to perform The studies and development to advance science. so that the implementation can benefit people of a chemical engineer. research a variety of chemical engineers namely, energy, environment, materials, medical, pharmaceutical, chemical processing, chemicals and others.