Chemical Engineering

Undergraduate study

Chemical Engineering first year laboratory class

Why Chemical Engineering?

The discipline of Chemical Engineering has its origins in oil refining and petrochemical production, and whilst our graduates still find employment in this area, there has been a fundamental change in emphasis; chemical engineers today are engaged in highly diverse activities ranging from regenerative medicine and food processing to searching for solutions to the global energy problem. During this transition the fundamentals of the subject have changed relatively little; rather, it is the scope for the application of chemical engineering principles that has expanded greatly.

Chemical Engineering is quite distinct from Chemistry. Although many of the processes chemical engineers deal with involve chemical reactions, the contribution of chemists and chemical engineers is quite different - even though they quite frequently work together. Chemists strive to find new pathways to desired end products and to investigate mechanisms of reactions.

The role of the chemical engineer is to translate this information to design processes that must not only be economically viable but must increasingly demonstrate minimal environmental impact.

Chemical Engineering draws on a wide variety of skills and knowledge. In fact the problem-solving and numeracy skills of chemical engineers are highly sought after by employers and help to explain why chemical engineers top the scales of all the major engineering professions.

What is Chemical Engineering?

Chemical Engineering (also called Process Engineering) involves the processing of lower value raw materials into higher value products, in a safe, cost effective and environmentally responsible way. If you look around you, almost everything you see will be a product of Chemical Engineering somehow. Chemical Engineers work in a wide variety of industries and different job roles, such as production, process design and construction, plant improvement and debottlenecking, research, technical development and product development.

Where do Chemical Engineers work?

Chemical Engineers are fortunate enough to get to work in a wide range of industries, including:oil and gas refining, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, plant design and construction, petrochemicals, food processing, speciality chemicals, personal care, cleaning products, paints, plastics, textiles, biotechnology, agrochemicals, environmental health and wastewater treatment and much more.

Take a look at one of our graduate profiles

Operations Graduate at Tate & Lyle

profile-ug-Hannah"I was first attracted to the Department by its excellent reputation and strong links with industry, and after attending an open day I became convinced that Loughborough was the university for me. The first two years gave me a very good understanding of the underlying theories of Chemical Engineering, but most importantly gave me the confidence to go out and spend time working in industry.

Finding a placement couldn't have been easier with a large number of companies approaching the university with positions and even coming into the Department to carry out interviews. I carried out my placement with BASF, working under the supervision of a Senior Process Engineer within the technical department. I went on to do a summer placement for a computer simulation company, assisting in building a dynamic process simulation of BP’s largest gas export facility.

I spent my third year completing a research project at Palermo University in Italy. This was a fantastic experience and I received both an EU grant and free Italian lessons whilst there.

Having recently graduated I have spent the last five months working for Tate & Lyle Sugars in London. The Tate & Lyle Graduate Scheme provides the opportunity to spend the first year working alongside management and operators in sugar refining in order to gain a strong understanding of all areas of the process. After a period of time spent as a shift manager I will take on a full time position as a Process Engineer." Hannah Phipps