Chemical engineers select top 10 inventions of modern era

Chemical engineers have voted on what they feel are the most important chemically engineered inventions and solutions of the modern era.

Readily available clean drinking water was selected as the most important chemical engineered invention of the modern era. (Photo credit: princessdlaf/iStock)
Readily available clean drinking water was selected as the most important chemical engineered invention of the modern era. (Photo credit: princessdlaf/iStock)

According to survey of chemical engineers, clean drinking water, gasoline and antibiotics are the three most important chemical engineering inventions and solutions of the modern era. The survey was conducted by the Institution of Chemical Engineers, a professional engineering group with more than 36,000 members.

Top 10 Chemical Engineering Inventions

  1. Drinking or potable water
  2. Petrol or gasoline (and other fuels including diesel)
  3. Antibiotics
  4. Electricity generation (from fossil fuels)
  5. Vaccines
  6. Plastics
  7. Fertilizer
  8. Sanitation
  9. Electricity generation (from non-fossil fuels)
  10. Dosed medications (such as tablets, pills and capsules)

Notable chemical engineering inventions that didn’t make the top 10 include biofuels (11th), contraceptives (12th), batteries (13th), the catalytic converter (14th), adhesives (28th), pneumatic tyres (39th) and photographic film (41st).

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“Chemical engineering is a remarkable profession. It can take the smallest of discoveries in laboratories — from all fields of science and technology — and replicate them on a mass scale, consistently and economically,” David Brown, IChemE’s chief executive, said. "As the global population grows to an estimated 9 billion by 2050, issues like energy generation, the management of health, water supply and food production will become more challenging. They are issues that chemical engineers are already looking at to find the next generation of sustainable solutions."

Also: IChemE calls for global action to cut water usage in food production

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