The Canadian Journal of Chemical Engineering has a new Virtual Issue, featuring all of the papers in our Experimental Methods in Chemical Engineering series. This special series of mini-review papers began with the preface in November 2018. The Virtual Issue compiles 14 articles that have been published since then or will be published in upcoming issues, including the latest on fluidized bed reactors, x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, micro-reactors, and specific surface area and pore size distribution measurements. Thanks to our partnership with Wiley, the whole Virtual Issue is freely available to read for the next few weeks.

The Experimental Methods in Chemical Engineering series is guest edited by Gregory Patience, MCIC, and CSChE Director of Divisions and Local Sections. Patience, a professor and Canada Research Chair in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Polytechnique Montréal, explains that the series began with a simple ongoing question: “what is chemical engineering?”

This question particularly emerged for Patience when, he says, “about 10 years ago a senior professor told me that chemical engineering is dead and that I should find something else to do. That recommendation stuck with me for years as I was wondering if chemical engineering had a future.”

Rather than being deterred by this statement or shifting focus to another field, Patience put his skills to work analyzing what kind of research chemical engineers were doing, who they were collaborating with, and what techniques they were using to perform their research. Each article in the Virtual Issue explores a particular experimental method commonly used by chemical engineers (like temperature programmed reduction, ultraviolet visible spectroscopy, or differential scanning calorimetry) and conducts a bibliometric analysis of what disciplines use the method and what kind of research it enables.

VOSViewer bibliometric map of common physical and physicochemical properties investigated in Can. J. Chem. Eng. articles (Figure 1 from Experimental Methods in Chemical Engineering: Preface)

“I sought to understand who chemical engineers worked with and with what tools,” explains Patience. “Our bibliographic analysis demonstrated that we work with chemists most.  On the one hand, we report basic physico-chemical properties most—pressure, temperature, flow rate, pH—but, on the other hand, we apply and develop state-of-the-art analytical techniques.” Can. J. Chem. Eng. serves as a case study in these mini-reviews, as they analyze what areas these different techniques have been applied to in chemical engineering over the last three years.

VOSViewer bibliometric map of common instrumentation and mathematical methods in Can. J. Chem. Eng. articles (Figure 2 from Experimental Methods in Chemical Engineering: Preface)

For Patience, the Can. J. Chem. Eng. special series and Virtual Issue offer a way to reach out to students just beginning in the field of chemical engineering, researchers who might be looking at applying a new technique, and experts who are interested in the meta-analysis. “In the end, I thought a series describing the applications of these experimental methods, the theory, and the limitations would be helpful to engineers and students starting out but also more experienced researchers that need a refresher.” In this Can. J. Chem. Eng. Virtual Issue you can read all of the Experimental Methods in Chemical Engineering mini-review papers. The other methods included in this series are nuclear magnetic resonance, contact angles, mass spectrometry, particle size distribution by laser diffraction, discrete element method, fluorescence emission spectroscopy, and artificial neural networks. This special series is still ongoing, so keep an eye out for more of these mini-review articles being added to the Virtual Issue.