Single important chem enginering of all time

What would you say would be the single, most impactful chemical engineering event of all time? Specific event too, not real broad category(e.g. like saying electronics) & why you believe so.

My vote would be the development of gunpowder. Whether good or bad, this mixture of sulfur, charcoal & potassium nitrate attributed to the Chinese has changed the world's society many times over and still continues to do so throughout centuries.

There are many other equal nomination possibilities so lets hear yours!


  • Ashraf HZ
    Ashraf HZ
    I've read the developments of alchemy by Islamic scholars in the Arab world, can't remember anything specific. They have also continued development on the gunpowder after the Chinese. Will find out about it later.
  • gohm
    Ash, do you agree or do you feel there is something else more worthy of the greatest chem engineering event of all time?
  • Kaustubh Katdare
    Kaustubh Katdare
    Would you consider discovery of nuclear fission/fusion a chemical engineering event?

    Nuclear fission & fusion changed the world forever.
  • mahul
    Yeah fission and fusion did change the picture of the world, but my vote would go to gunpowder because it changed the everyday life of the human race more intimately than fission and fusion have done till date.
  • Ashraf HZ
    Ashraf HZ
    Actually, the profession of Chemical Engineering is only around 100 years old, according to:
    History of ChEn: Struggle for Survival

    If thats the case, should we narrow down the timeline? I personally don't know a single important Chem Eng event, as I wasn't too fond of the subject since school 😉 From the top of my head, I think the process of petroleum has a big impact. I think the most senior Chemical CEan amongst us, mbeychok, can contribute his opinion 😀

    Speaking of gunpowder amongst other things, heres an interesting insight:

    discoverer/inventers of true soap, shampoo, acid, alcohol, explosive gunpowder etc.
  • gohm
    Yes, I can't wait to hear from the chem folks who will have some great ideas on this subject!

    Big K, I guess if you define chemical engineering loosely you could include nuclear fusion as well.

    Ash, also a good one! How could we leave out our use of refined petroleum.
  • smithsan
    Nanotechnology is a vague, overly broad term. The most commonly accepted definition is something like nanotechnology is any technology making use of the unique properties of matter structured on length scales smaller than 100 nm. By this definition the semiconductor industry has been doing nanotechnology for a long time now.

  • inferno3
    The invention of the organic light emitting diode in the mid-eighties was extremely important. It was invented by Prof. Tang, currently at the University of Rochester, for Kodak. It's in nearly everything...VCR/TV/stereo/PC standby indicators. He's currently optimizing the efficiency of the reverse LED (turning light into electrical energy) as an alternative energy source.

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