Chemical Engineer

South Africa generates approximately 50 million tonnes of general waste a year including large amounts of plastic that pollutes the environment and especially our oceans. Chemical engineering concerns the processing of materials through chemical techniques and have a big role to play to assist in finding ways of processing waste into useful materials and products.

Chemical engineers design and prepare specifications for chemical processes, systems and the construction and operation of commercial-scale chemical plants. They also supervise industrial processing, fabrication and manufacturing of products undergoing physical and chemical changes and related technologies. Chemical engineers can also provide input into and design chemical recycling techniques to upcycle waste that is safe and reusable.

Chemical engineers collaborate with chemists, biochemists and other engineers, scientists and technicians. They mostly work in offices and laboratories and sometimes work onsite at industrial plants or factories in hazardous conditions with chemicals.


Chemical engineers must have a thorough understanding of chemistry and chemical processing principles and be proficient with popular engineering software and automated chemical equipment. They will also benefit from:

  • Creative problem-solving skills 
  • Excellent analytical and logical reasoning ability
  • Project management
  • Written and verbal communication and presentation skills


Perform tests through the stages of production 

Specify chemical production methods, materials and quality standards

Design chemical plant equipment and devise new chemical processes 

Perform laboratory studies in the manufacture of new products and test proposed processes


B.Sc.Eng. in Chemical Engineering at UCT and Wits

B.Eng. in Chemical Engineering at NWU, SU, UKZN and UP

Diploma, Advanced Diploma, M.Tech in Chemical Engineering at CPUT, DUT, MUT, TUT, UJ, UNISA and VUT


National, provincial and local government.

Chemical process companies.

Design and construction organisations.

NGOs, development organisations and private consultancies.

Research institutions.

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