Chemical Engineering is Useful for Homemade Cider

Nathan Arnett

Nathan Arnett,
Senior, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

Athens, OH 19 January 2018

One of the biggest reasons I went into Chemical Engineering nearly four years ago was due to the versatility of the field. The 3 main tracks Ohio University offers—materials sciences, biological, and environmental—cover such a wide range of areas that with a Chemical Engineering degree, you could find yourself developing new, stronger steels; more eco-friendly fuels, or even making hard cider with your parents over Christmas break!

At my house, we have 2-4 apple trees that produce LOADS of apples each year, and my grandmother also has a well-producing tree. Typically, we just bake the apples into pies or can it as apple butter or apple sauce, but with a large harvest this year, we decided to try our hand at some hard cider.

My Chemical Engineering degree is on the Biological Track, which means I have a fair amount of experience with things involving yeasts, proper sanitation, and the mathematical know-how needed for various types of concentration calculations.

As it turns out, all of these skills came in quite handy when it came time to make some cider. While my father had some experience with brewing from his younger years, I myself had none. However, through the relevant things I had learned in my time at Ohio University, I was able to jump in and help him right away.

It was a really interesting dynamic—my father knew some tricks-of-the-trade but doesn’t have the engineering background, while I knew essentially none of the steps but had the engineering background. Between the two of us, we could learn what the other one did not and from there we could work together to come up with more efficient and different methods to try out.

All in all it was a great experience and a very enjoyable activity over my Christmas break. Also, it was certainly a fun application of various Chemical Engineering theories I have learned over the years, and just another example of the wide range of areas that Chemical Engineering can touch our lives.

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