Analytical Instrumentation & Environmental Monitoring

Pushing chemical ­processes to the limit

December 2014 Analytical Instrumentation & Environmental Monitoring

Products in the chemical industry can be divided into base chemicals, specialty chemicals and intermediate and finished products. These are used in the consumer goods sector, manufacturing industries as well in other sectors like agriculture. Today’s industrial chemical production can, in part, be traced back to the beginnings of industrial production in Europe in the 19th century. The main focus was, and still is:

• Fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides.

• Dyes and pigments.

• Synthetic fibres for low-cost textiles.

• Medicines.

Chemical reactions take place in continuous processes or batch procedures with substances being treated both mechanically and thermally. Furthermore, all substances must be conveyed on the factory premises and beyond. At all of these points, it is necessary to check material properties. In addition to the physical parameters of pressure, temperature or mass flow, the parameters for liquid analysis are also recorded – among others, the pH value, conductivity and dissolved oxygen. All measured values are required for optimum process management, therefore systems that work precisely and in a timely manner enable facility operators to minimise the use of energy and materials and, at the same time, to maximise the volume and quality of products.

Process analytics for optimum production

Since the economic crisis in 2009, many chemical facilities are once again running at full capacity. Process analytics, as a part of production and automation engineering, procures all of the information that is required to manage the processes optimally and efficiently. The online analytics required for inspection must therefore deliver absolutely reliable measurement values. In fine chemicals, it makes a difference whether the processes are batch or continuous because the requirements differ for each of these:

• Batch processes: individual reaction steps are optimised and the end quality is determined without long waiting times.

• Continuous processes: process management builds on the results from the process analytics and, at the same time, several process steps are optimised – e.g. yields, by-product formation, volume of energy and raw material.

Top performance only with the highest level of safety

Process optimisation often involves increasing the yield, for example by pushing chemical reactions closer to the limit. A typical example is partial gas phase reactions that are only properly effective with the optimum oxygen content i.e. as close as possible to the explosion limit. To ensure that the facility can be operated safely, the analysis technology that is used must be reliable, precise and failsafe. It must be assessed in accordance with the SIL classification.

Memosens for optimal applications in the chemical industry

• Allows important process data to be saved directly in the sensor.

• Interference-free measuring signals.

• No metal contacts eliminate failures due to corrosion salt bridges and moisture.

• Easy process measuring technology.

• Teamed with all common fieldbus types.

• Memosens systems are suitable for all process control and asset management systems.

For more information contact Jan Swart, Endress+Hauser, +27 (0)11 262 8000,,


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