Project portfolio : Chemical process monitoring

Working for a major UK chemicals firm, WyeTec were commissioned to develop high-speed image capture and recording software to monitor and optimise the performance of a chemical reactor.

High-speed X-ray imaging:

Our client had prototyped a novel chemical process using a powdered catalyst in a "fluidised bed" - whereby inert gas is bubbled through the powder causing it to behave as if it were liquid.

In order to upscale the prototype to a full production unit, it was necessary to understand how to achieve even performance and mixing within the fluidised bed. To do this, a high-power pulsed X-ray source was employed, with a specialist imaging system. WyeTec's brief was to provide the systems integration for the X-ray source and imaging system, including synchronisation of the pulsed source to the image capture hardware, and to provide software for high-speed recording and playback of frame sequences and visualistion.

An excellent result:

By analysing the video captured, the X-ray system allowed our client to understand the fluid dynamics within the reactor vessel, and how they were affected by the reactor's geometry and internal equipment, such as cooling coils and baffles.

Without X-ray data, our client would have needed to build a full-scale demonstration plant before attempting the commercial stage of their process. The estimated saving was $20-$30 million, and approximately 3~4 years development.

WyeTec is the trading name of Wye Valley Associates Ltd; UK Company No. 03758914.
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