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Chemistry or chemical engineering?

So i have offers for chemical engineering at UCL and chemistry at KCL and im having a hard time choosing between them. Im really interested in the climate so my original plan was to go for geography but i realised i wanted to actually help fix issues like climate change so something more sciency would be better, which is also what im interested in. I wanted to know wether chemical engineering would be the right pathway for that sort of thing or if chemistry would be better. Ive heard that chemical engineering is a-lot about oil rigs etc.. which isn't really my passion but i would be willing to go through it if i could research into carbon capture or something similar later on in the course. If the environment isn't really a huge focus then maybe i wold be better of doing something more neutral like chemistry?
Original post by ciuteemily
So i have offers for chemical engineering at UCL and chemistry at KCL and im having a hard time choosing between them. Im really interested in the climate so my original plan was to go for geography but i realised i wanted to actually help fix issues like climate change so something more sciency would be better, which is also what im interested in. I wanted to know wether chemical engineering would be the right pathway for that sort of thing or if chemistry would be better. Ive heard that chemical engineering is a-lot about oil rigs etc.. which isn't really my passion but i would be willing to go through it if i could research into carbon capture or something similar later on in the course. If the environment isn't really a huge focus then maybe i wold be better of doing something more neutral like chemistry?



Chemical engineering is more about the production, management and application of industrial chemicals for real world applications rather then deal with the raw chemistry, yes you can do X chemical reactions to get Y, but if you want to do so on an efficient time/economical manner you need to be more pragmatic so its about how you do so at industrial scale rather then the reaction in its purest form if you like...

Well the environment/climate change will inevitably influence anything you do in chemical engineering it might not be quite how you imagine it; but if its just reducing CO2 or other GHGs they'll be opportunities to do so in chemical engineering (but if you work in industry the company you work for are unlikely to be full of tree huggers, more pragmatists who work on optimising their systems for government regulation or economic purposes).
Hi there,

I'm a final year Chemical Engineering student with experience in industrial gases. Great to hear you're considering joining the field.

Doing Chemistry or Chemical Engineering is far more proactive for the climate than Geography in my opinion, so you're right to have some science backing.

Chemical Engineering, despite the name, would really be better suited to being called Plant or Process Engineering. There is very little chemistry involved in the actual subject. We use rate equations to design reactors, and enthalpy of reactions to optimise heat exchangers, but we don't worry too much about the molecular level at all, not outside biochemical engineering.

When we do look at molecules, we're generally more interested in macrostructures such as colloids or cells as factories, or hydrophobicity and surface tension. All interesting stuff, but definitely not analytical chemistry.

In terms of helping the climate, chemical engineering is a solid choice. It's a valued trait in the field, and lots of people choose the degree to make our world more efficient and sustainable.

In terms of work in Carbon Capture or Green Hydrogen, that's quite glamorous stuff. It's very new and still at the development stage. Hopefully by the time you graduate, there will be more jobs in it! Right now, it's (unfortunately) not a mainstream profession.

It's also so much more than oil rigs though!! Food, pharmaceuticals, industrial gases, plastics, drinks - it's all chemical engineering. Indeed, chemical engineering is generally more concerned with downstream processing, and not upstream operations like drilling for oil.

Most of my course friends have had or are looking at jobs in plant operations, modelling, data analysis, design optimisation, management and R&D.

So in terms of your passions, it might not be ideally suited to you, but there is absolutely work which will satisfy your wanting to create a sustainable future.

If it helps, we also make a lot more than chemists πŸ˜‰

Good luck with your decision!

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