In simple terms, Chemical Engineering deals with the production of a variety of chemicals on large scale. Large scale production is associated with the engineering problems such as fluid flow, heat and mass transfer, mixing and all types of unit operations. These chemicals are produced through chemical reactions in a vessel called “Chemical Reactor”. Chemical Reactor is known as the heart of any chemical plant since the new chemicals are produced only in this vessel and the economics of the entire plant depends on the design of reactor.
Chemical Reaction Engineering (CRE) deals with the design of Chemical Reactors to produce chemicals. The design of Chemical Reactors is based on a few simple and useful concepts. Though the concepts are simple, it is not easy for the students to develop a feeling for these concepts unless the teacher explains by giving different day to day examples with which the students are familiar with. This is what I tried to do in these courses, one on homogeneous reactions (some call this as Chemical Reaction Engineering I) and heterogeneous reactions (some call this is as Chemical Reaction Engineering II).
After understanding the concepts, if we look at the subject of Chemical Reaction Engineering, it will be full of simple to complex mathematics. But, without understanding the concepts, the subject appears to be meaningless mathematical exercise and the student does not have “a feel for the design of the reactor." My experience at IIT Madras for the last 30+ years, unfortunately, is that, even most of the PG students who come for their Master’s and Doctorate degrees also do not have “the feel for the design of the reactor”. I find that this is due to lack of conceptual understanding of fundamentals of Chemical Reaction Engineering.