CHBE 121 - ChBE 121 Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering...

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ChBE 121 Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering at UIUC 1/2009 -1- What Is Chemical Engineering Original text by Marina Miletic; minor edits by Paul Kenis Chemical engineers are involved in so many diverse aspects of technology that this is not an easy question to answer. In the broadest sense, the chemical engineer takes our most basic natural resources, such as petroleum, natural gas, and minerals, as well as basic agricultural products such as corn and soy, and, through the use of chemistry, he/she converts these basic resources into a very large number of products, ranging from computer chips to paper towels, from gasoline to corn syrup, from penicillin to paint, from batteries to shampoo, etc. Some of the many problems chemical engineers are currently working on include: Solving the energy crisis. Refining petroleum and renewable resources into valuable chemicals and fuels more efficiently Making pharmaceuticals Developing stronger and more durable plastics Making any food or beverage that comes in a package. Making personal products such as shampoos, soaps, hair sprays, cosmetics, etc. Making microelectronics and chips for use in computers and other electronic devices Development of new batteries, lighter in weight and higher in capacity (like to power electric cars) Producing cheaper and more environmentally friendly fertilizers and pesticides for enhancing agricultural production Development of cheaper scrubbing processes so that high sulfur coal will be a more environmentally attractive fuel Producing gasoline that burns more cleanly and efficiently, reducing the carbon footprint related to
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CHBE 121 - ChBE 121 Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering...

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