What if Chemical Engineers Didn’t Exist?

Can you imagine a life without chemical engineers? We can’t!

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Can you imagine a life without chemical engineers? 



It sounds absurd but what if we live in a world without chemical engineers?

No food to feed the world!

Can you imagine a life without chemical engineers? (Source: Giphy)

Fritz Haber was the inventor of the all-renowned Haber Process, where nitrogen from the air is mixed with hydrogen under high temperature and pressure, to produce Ammonia.

Now ammonia stinks, but, thanks to this process, more than half of the world’s population is being fed with good food.

This process produces nitrogen fertilizers and is used by most of the food industries. Now, this process was invented by Fritz Haber, but, it was Carl Bosch, who took it an industrial scale and then began mass production of the fertilizers. Imagine if the process wasn’t introduced on an industrial scale; we would probably be eating only fish now.

No clean water

Can you imagine a life without chemical engineers? (Source: Giphy)

We can drink clean water today, with the help of the cleaning process invented by Chemical Engineers. Purifying water has several steps to it and being able to change the sea water into something edible, wouldn’t have been possible without the thinking of Chemical Engineers.

Today, even contaminated sewage waters can be turned into pure, drinkable water. Even, desalination, a process where salts and unwanted minerals are removed to purify the water and make it suitable for drinking and other purposes. Desalination is a way that majorly contributes to purifying water and is being used in over 120 countries, including United Arab Emirates, India, Greece and Saudi Arabia.

Recycling wouldn’t have been possible!

Can you imagine a life without chemical engineers? (Source: Giphy)

Recycling things like aluminum, paper and plastics and reusing them have become possible, thanks to the innovators. Recycling aluminum was developed in the 1960s and today, aluminum has become one of the most recycled materials. With this, starting from cans to cars is being recycled today, and has mainly helped in reducing the consumption of bauxite and crude oil and has also contributed in reducing the air pollution.

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Recycling paper and plastics has also become possible with the help of Chemical Engineers. Plastic is something we use in our everyday lives and is non-biodegradable. Therefore, to save energy and the environment, Engineers have come up with a process, which reprocesses the plastic to be reused again. This not only saves energy, but, even helps environmentally.

Batteries? What are they?

Can you imagine a life without chemical engineers? (Source: Giphy)

This is something that every technology needs, especially the long-lasting ones.  Without it, you probably wouldn’t have been able to read this article.

Lewis Urry, a Chemical Engineer, invented the alkaline and the lithium battery, while working for the all-known battery company, Eveready. Today, 80% of the dry-cell batteries are based on his invention. This is the technology era and it definitely wouldn’t have been possible without Urry’s work and methods. Eveready produced batteries since the 1800s, but, the batteries that were produced before Urry’s invention, wouldn’t have been able to power any of the gadgets that we use today. Urry’s invention brought long-lasting, cost-effective batteries and basically is one of the major inventions, which made portable electronics a reality.

Ozone layer probably wouldn’t have been depleted.

Can you imagine a life without chemical engineers? (Source: Giphy)

CFCs, also knows as Chloro-Fluro Carbon, wouldn’t exist today. It’s a coolant used in refrigerators, air conditioners and as propellants in aerosol. This invention, however, has caused a lot of harm to the ozone layer, thereby exposing the earth to ultraviolet radiation.

Thomas Midgley was a Mechanical Engineer and a Chemist, so if you combine the worst subjects of these two, one may get Chemical Engineer, which Midgley was arguably. Apparently, the first CFC was highly stable and had no harmful effects on animals, humans and plants. Due to its non-inflammability and volatility, the product was a huge success commercially and was used in refrigerators and air conditioners. However, people were too late to realize its long-term harmful effects and the fact that, it was due to CFCs that the ozone layer was being majorly affected. The damage became known in the 1980s and that’s when the Montreal Accord came into play, which eventually phased-out the use of CFCs.

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We would be breathing lead!

Can you imagine a life without chemical engineers? (Source: Giphy)

Unfortunately, Midgley didn’t stop at CFCs. Before CFCs, Midgley produced TEL, tetraethyl lead, which was used in early cars to reduce ‘engine knocking’. TEL caused birth defects, polluted the environment and affected people in many ways physically and mentally. However, the use of it was soon to be outlawed and replaced by the great innovation of Vladimir Haensel.

He invented the platforming process, which allowed oil to have a higher octane rating and at the same time caused less air pollution, unlike TEL. Haensel had the idea in mind, which is reforming the naphthas, but, the process required a catalyst. Then, he discovered the use of platinum as a catalyst, which was a stable and facilitated the process accordingly. Although, the surface eventually gets piled up with coke, today’s refining processes, allows the platinum catalyst to regenerate up to 400 times before  being recycled. This great invention, allowed petrol to have a higher octane rating, without any use of harmful chemicals and also benefited the environment. It cuts off harmful emissions and produces hydrocarbon like benzene, which is mainly used in the production of plastics.

Haensel contributed to the production of catalytic converters and thanks to that, we are breathing air instead of lead today!

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Afsana Alam

Afsana Alam is a chemical engineering student at American University of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. She is a broke blogger and a huge fan of animes.


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