Process engineers often consider moving high volume batch process (typically in a vessel) to be run on a continuous basis, typically in a pipe or series of small connected reactors.
This fundamental change in reaction conditions can lead to significant increases in production capacity, but involves a significant change to many aspects of process design and unforeseen challenges (and hopefully benefits!).
A first step towards the change is a need to characterise unit process steps. Process tomography sensors can provide quantitative and qualitative measurements on the dynamics and volume based effects of batch based processes. These data can be used as primary information on the process or exported to other analysis tools (such as Matlab, Excel or specialist process modelling packages).
Sensors can be retro-fitted as probes (often instead of existing baffles) or purpose built sensors / vessels can be used. A key benefit of the robustness of tomography sensors (where ERT is the appropriate technique) is that they are usually able to operate under reaction conditions by using chemically resistant sensors and ATEX certified where required.
Once unit processes have been characterised and continuous process developed, it is necessary to validate process conditions. In this case tomography sensors can also help to determine effectiveness of in-line mixing and other performance characteristics.
Once a process is effectively transferred, tomography can be used to continuously monitor its performance or be kept in reserve to provide information should reaction conditions change.