Process and chemical engineering

The chemical and process engineering is an interdisciplinary engineering science between mechanical engineering, technical physics, mathematics, physical and technical chemistry.

The study field at a glance

  • Process engineering is primarily material conversion technology. Here, physical (especially mechanical and thermal), chemical and biological processes of technical equipment and processes are investigated, modeled and optimized.
  • This also applies to the heat and fuel technology, which - apart from the use of electrical heat - ranges from domestic heating to process heat in heavy industry, including the preparation of fuels. Process engineering has close links to mechanical engineering in its subsections Plant Engineering and Planning. The environmental technology is also related.
  • Chemical engineering focuses on chemical, biological and physical processes and processes of matter transformation. Examples are the conversion of sugar into alcohol, of ethylene into polyethylene or the physical mixing or separation of substances. In addition to the production of industrial products, the environmental protection, the recycling technology and the development of sustainable (that is, in this case: resource-conserving) production processes in the application of chemical engineering.
    Intersections on chemical and process engineering also have the manufacturing technologies - tailored more to metalworking - and industrial engineering.

Offered courses

Bachelor's and Master's degree programs in this area are available at universities and technical colleges. Process engineering or chemical engineering is sometimes offered in combination. There are also a number of courses with different names but related topics. Biotechnology, for example, examines biotechnical processes and pharmaceutical technology the production of pharmaceuticals.

Contents of the course

In the bachelor program, modules teach the natural science-technical basis: mathematics, physics, biology, inorganic and organic chemistry, mechanics, materials and plastics science, thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, information technology, machine drawing and CAD. In addition, there is a general introduction to process engineering production.

On top of that, modules (if applicable also only in the master's program) are built on the specific subject areas: process engineering, bioprocess engineering, technical chemistry, plant and apparatus engineering, process dynamics and control, process design, numerical mathematics, heat and mass transfer.

In the Fachhochschule study, the teaching of constructive and production-technical knowledge is usually in the foreground. They gain a specialization in the areas of apparatus engineering, process and plant engineering, reaction technology, industrial chemistry, safety and environmental technology.

In part, increased application relevance in areas such as process engineering, environmental and biotechnology, paint engineering or textile chemistry is possible.

Admission criteria & study application

Depending on the university, a pre-study internship is sometimes necessary.

Possible careers after graduation

Employment opportunities for engineers in process and chemical engineering exist mainly in:

  • Operators of process plants, e.g. in the chemical and pharmaceutical industry, petrochemical industry, iron and steel industry, plastics industry, wood and building material industry, glass and ceramic industry, paper and pulp industry, textile industry, food and beverage industry, in utilities and waste disposal companies, energy production companies, processing industry and refiners of the mining industry
  • Design, manufacturing and assembly companies for process engineering machines and plants
  • Supervisory and approval authorities, technical inspection associations
  • (also independent) engineering offices or experts' offices