ChE: Distinguish between product and process design/analysis

Process versus Product Design/Engineering.

As mentioned previously, "traditional" ChE's would design/troubleshoot/optimize processes. What that means is that someone else would tell them:

This left the ChE to figure out how to scale-up the benchtop chemistry to production, etc. and how to perform any necessary separations, how to do all of this as economically as possible (so that the plant would make money).


Process engineering is the practice of designing and troubleshooting processes for materials that are well-defined from the standpoint of both purity and chemical composition (typically commodity chemicals).

Product design/engineering, in fact, includes process design/engineering (we still recognize that you need to make the stuff after you design it!), but takes several steps backward toward the "bigger picture". By looking at the bigger picture we now change our focus to:

This is a fundamental shift that has helped ChE's to rapidly move away from purely making commodity chemicals, and to branch effectively into: specialty chemicals, pharmaceuticals, devices (medical, electronic, etc.), consumer goods, and so on.

The Swiffer® (a registered trademark of Procter & Gamble) is a great example of a product designed with significant input from ChE's. Their goal was to make a better dusting cloth. They decided what that cloth would need to be able to do, then they came up with materials that could do it, and then they designed the process to make it! (more on the product design process soon)


Product engineering is the design and manufacturing of (chemically related) products that satisfy specific customer goals, starting from material screening through manufacture.


Distinguish between product and process design/analysis


Come up with some examples of products that ChE's might design.