In a survey published by the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE), chemical engineers have voted for what they consider to be the most important chemically engineered inventions and solutions of the modern era – with drinking water, petrol and antibiotics topping the poll.

From a shortlist of over 40 inventions, chemical engineers have voted for their most important chemically engineered solutions over the past century. The ten inventions, considered to have made the biggest impact on society, were:

  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).

Some notable inventions which didn’t make the top ten included biofuels (11th), contraceptives (12th), batteries (13th), the catalytic converter (14th), adhesives (28th), pneumatic tyres (39th) and photographic film (41st).

David Brown, IChemE’s chief executive says, “As the global population grows to an estimated nine billion by 2050, issues like energy generation, the management of health, water supply and food production will become more challenging.”

Today’s top stories
New 20 MVA to 60 MVA transformer manufacturing line in Pretoria
From green buildings to green precincts
Electricity generation among top ten inventions