Also found in: Dictionary, Wikipedia.
process engineering[′prä‚səs ‚en·jə‚nir·iŋ]
A branch of engineering in which a process effects chemical and mechanical transformations of matter, conducted continuously or repeatedly on a substantial scale. Process engineering constitutes the specification, optimization, realization, and adjustment of the process applied to manufacture of bulk products or discrete products. Bulk products are those which are homogeneous throughout and uniform in properties, are in gaseous, liquid, or solid form, and are made in separate batches or continuously. Examples of bulk product processes include petroleum refining, municipal water purification, the manufacture of penicillin by fermentation or synthesis, the forming of paper from wood pulp, the separation and crystallization of various salts from brine, the production of liquid oxygen and nitrogen from air, the electrolytic beneficiation of aluminum, and the manufacture of paint, whiskey, plastic resin, and so on. Discrete products are those which are separate and individual, although they may be identical or very nearly so. Examples of discrete product processes include the casting, molding, forging, shaping, forming, joining, and surface finishing of the component piece parts of end products or of the end products themselves. Processes are chemical when one or more essential steps involve chemical reaction. Almost no chemical process occurs without many accompanying mechanical steps such as pumping and conveying, size reduction of particles, classification of particles and their separation from fluid streams, evaporation and distillation with attendant boiling and condensation, absorption, extraction, membrane separations, and mixing. See Mechanical classification, Mechanical separation techniques, Mixing, Optimization, Production engineering