What is the use of MATLAB in chemical engineering?

Technical Source
2 min readOct 12, 2019

MATLAB is a programming language that is used to solve primarily numerical computations and plotting data in the most layman terms. With a few additional packages like Simulink, it can have innumerable applications across the engineering domains.

For Chemical Engineers, the applications are many, ranging from process control, process calculations, numerical manipulation to process simulation and modelling and optimization. SCILAB is a freeware that is almost similar to MATLAB (obviously, not exactly powerful but close enough) and could be a good starting point to learn if you do not have access to MATLAB at school.

With respect to my educational use, let me give you two examples that I had used in the past very vividly.

  1. Identification of transfer function of a Single Board Heater System through step response experiments
  2. Feedback Control of Temperature using heater input- A Simulation Study
  3. Feedback Control of Temperature using heater input- An Experimental Study

These are the three experiments that we had in our undergrad Lab course work where a program was coded using SCILAB and we vary the inputs to see the feedback response of the temperature of the body that we were measuring and apply PI, PD and PID controls.

Another use that I recently did for my Masters thesis was basically process modelling in regards to the selecting the best type of packing materials to get the most efficient and cost effective tower design. It combined the element of numerical calculations and optimization in to one. Without going in to details, I wrote a program that reads a library of 70 different packing materials (along with its 10+ packing constants and properties each), runs through the a combination of MATLAB code for design equations and create an output file. Though it may sound pretty easy, it was difficult for me because I did not have a huge exposure, background/interest in programming languages. However, you will still me able to learn quickly with persistence.

This are the two off the top examples that I can think of as of now. There are, as I mentioned earlier, many, many applications of MATLAB and its a great software to know.

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Technical Source

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