Designing the manufacturing process of our favorite food products, cosmetics, syrups, and tablets is far more complex than just consuming them. The optimum reaction temperature, pressure, and concentration are vital for perfect production. There is much more than just chemical reactions! Managing these factors at the laboratory level is very simple since we have numerous precise and sensitive instruments, but the problem arises when we try to scale that process at the industry level. Making these reactions and chemical processes feasible at a large is the major task of chemical engineers. They design the concerned reactions by applying the principles of chemistry, physics, and mathematics to the chemical industry. Keep reading to know Do Chemical Engineers Work In Labs?
Behind every bottle of moisturizer, there is a team of engineers, that worked hard to take the formula out of the laboratory to the factory. But the question is, do chemical engineers work in labs? Or just in factories? What can you expect if you plan to make it a career? Let’s find it out!
Do chemical engineers work in labs?
Working in labs is a task of the chemists. Chemists hold the responsibility to research the reaction conditions and reagents used in the synthesis of the product. They give the complete data, that is, volume, weight, temperature, gases evolved, pressure, etc. to the chemical engineers, and they scale it up.
Chemical engineering is often termed applied chemistry, in which you have to apply previously established concepts and theories.
The primary job of a chemical engineer is to create a product that is profitable for the company, and needed by the customers. A chemical engineer needs to take care that the cost of the products is not too high, the company gets a profit, and produces minimum waste.
But these are not the only tasks, chemical engineers have to perform regular laboratory work to check if the company is on the right track! Continuous improvisation in technology is what the industry needs and someone who knows about all the processes happening (chemical engineers) are a great asset to the company.
Every profession needs continuous progress in their services, chemical engineers also need to improve their methods. This testing can not be done on large scale, in huge containers, engineers need to go to the laboratory.
Do chemical engineers work in the lab every day?
It depends on many factors, like what is the current status of the manufacturing company, is the company in its growing stage or already well-established, what is the major chemical that the company is producing, and much more.
A chemical engineer working in a pharmaceutical company will have to work in labs more frequently as compared to one working in a flavoring agent company. Industries where chemical engineers work in labs the most are pharmaceutical companies, petroleum industries, pesticide, and insecticide-producing companies, etc.
Industries, where chemical engineers have to work comparatively less in the labs, are companies producing chemicals in bulk, companies producing only one kind of food product and similar ones.
What do Chemical Engineers do in labs?
These are the tasks that chemical engineers do in the laboratory:
- Developing cleaner and greener processes at the laboratory level and then scaling them up at the industry level.
- Applying mathematical models and computational chemistry techniques before reaching the industry level.
- Testing the quality of products. Avoiding toxic reagents and chemicals as much as they can.
How much time do they work in the labs?
Depending on the industry that they are working in, a chemical spends 40-70% of its time in the laboratory. For a chemical engineer working in the pharmaceutical industry, this time will be heigher as compared to the one working in the petroleum industry.
Can you research while working in a chemical engineering lab?
First, let’s make the definition of research in chemistry or chemical engineering very clear. Researching doesn’t only mean developing something new, rather, it means getting complete knowledge about something and explaining it using your knowledge and experience. You can do your Ph.D. on the working of an X-Ray Diffractor machine/instrument.
Coming to the question of that can you do research in a chemical engineering lab, yes you can. People do get their Ph.D. in this discipline after getting a graduate degree in chemical engineering. The research work is not only limited to educational institutions, you can pursue research in government-funded labs and companies.
Chemical engineering is a vast field having numerous opportunities. People get their degrees in chemical engineering and opportunities of working in the corporate, to pursue higher studies, entrepreneurship, and, research.
Wherever you go, laboratory work will always chase you if you are a chemical engineer. Designing machinery to avoid instrumental errors, applying the principles of engineering to make research easier for the chemists, modifying existing designs and processes to cause minimum harm to the environment, and avoiding accidents are the primary responsibilities of chemical engineers.
The amount of lab work that chemical engineers do is different in different fields. Industries like petroleum, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, agricultural chemical companies, research labs, etc. require more hours in the lab because they cannot compromise any error. Whereas companies like chemical production require less lab work and more site work.
Hope you got the idea about the relationship between a chemical engineer and with laboratory!
- Which is the most comfortable field for chemical engineers?
The most comfortable field can be the one that does not require the least researching and operating & maintaining machinery. So food-tech companies, some agriculture-tech start-up companies working on chemicals like pesticides and insecticides, and chemical-producing companies (the ones that produce a single or one kind of chemical like sulfuric acid).
- In what industries do chemical engineers work?
The list is long, chemical engineers work in pharmaceutical companies, aerospace, automobile, food tech, agri-tech, petroleum, educational institutes hosting this course, the material industry, and nanomaterial companies. Along with these, the government hires chemical engineers for various environmental tasks. Every company that deals with chemicals require them.