Pressure Measurement & Control

Pressure transmitter for pharmaceuticals

August 2022 Pressure Measurement & Control

Pressure monitoring in the pharmaceutical industry is a demanding task with a wide variety of requirements. However, a corresponding diversity of instrumentation is not an inevitable consequence. This is demonstrated by the use of a universal process transmitter from WIKA in the production of API (active pharmaceutical ingredients). Such ingredients form the core of many medical products.

Companies’ efforts in the field of process safety are correspondingly great. A producer of API for antibiotics was therefore looking for instrumentation for an API synthesis process that was both accurate and reliable in the long term. Different measuring locations had to be equipped: on reactors, storage tanks, steam lines and cooling lines.

High-end solution sought for pressure monitoring

The challenge here was that different catalysts and chemicals flow into the synthesis. This resulted in two decisive conditions for the measurement technology that would be used: On the one hand, the instruments intended for hydrogenation must not become embrittled due to continuous contact with hydrogen. On the other hand, corrosion must be prevented in the corresponding critical process steps. Furthermore, the API manufacturer wanted a high-end solution for its process. In addition to the technical requirements, a comparatively short delivery time was needed.

WIKA designed a package of solutions for the manufacturer based around only one model of measuring instrument, which met all the requirements of the synthesis process via specific adaptations. The company thus received an extremely efficient instrumentation system – and one that was on time, as required.

Diaphragm with gold coating prevents hydrogen diffusion

The selected measuring instrument was the UPT-20 universal process transmitter. Its performance – with an accuracy of 0,1% of span – is designed for pressure monitoring in the pharmaceutical industry, among other things. In the case of API synthesis, the instruments were specified with the respective connections and pressure ranges depending on the nature of measuring location.

The process transmitters intended for hydrogenation consequently received a diaphragm seal (Model 990.10), which shields the sensor from the aggressive hydrogen. Its diaphragm was also coated with gold to protect the diaphragm seal system with an additional barrier against hydrogen diffusion. Embrittlement of the diaphragm is thus avoided and, as a result, unhindered pressure transmission is permanently guaranteed.

For process steps involving chemicals and steam, WIKA combined the UPT-20 with the Model 990.27 diaphragm seal. This has a flange connection with a flush diaphragm, which enables residue-free cleaning. The standard version of the process transmitter was sufficient for pressure monitoring in the cooling processes – for the supply of nitrogen and cooling liquids.

Wide spectrum of uses in the pharmaceutical industry

The example of API synthesis shows that the universal process transmitter can cover a wide range of pressure monitoring in the pharmaceutical industry. In addition to high accuracy, the UPT-20 offers a wide selection of measuring ranges, between 0-400 mbar and 0-1000 bar. Furthermore, instrument versions with HART protocol and ATEX approval increase their flexibility in application.

Thanks to its compact form and rotatable display head with adjustable display, the UPT-20 can be installed in almost any environment.


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