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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/I006095/1
Title: SPEC_SENSE: Fast Spectroscopic Sensing and Measurement Products for Characterisation of Industrial Processes
Principal Investigator: Hoyle, Professor BS
Other Investigators:
Wang, Professor M
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
GlaxoSmithKline plc (GSK) Industrial Tomography Systems plc Johnson Matthey
Malvern Instruments Ltd
Department: Inst of Particle Science & Engineering
Organisation: University of Leeds
Scheme: Follow on Fund
Starts: 01 February 2011 Ends: 31 August 2012 Value (£): 164,636
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Instrumentation Eng. & Dev. Intelligent Measurement Sys.
Multiphase Flow Particle Technology
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Manufacturing Chemicals
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
29 Apr 2010 Follow On Fund 8 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
We use a vast range of products directly or indirectly in everyday life. These range from soups to baby-foods to feed us; paints and coating products to provide robust structural materials; plastics and composites to create many products; and pharmaceutical drugs to fight disease. They share a similar manufacturing method in which raw materials (or reagents) are combined through physical or chemical means, and known as a 'process'. This takes place in a 'process vessel', which is often sealed, under pressure and at elevated temperature. Critical aspects of such processes are efficiency, product quality, energy use and emissions impact. The core aim of this project is to stimulate new sensing products that can enhance these aspects and exploit their markets through licences.The project builds upon our background science and experimental technology, which an estimation of the internal (invisible) distribution of process materials. These innovations harness two principles: spectroscopy - the identification of specific materials; and, tomography - the identification of the distribution of components within the process vessel (similar to methods to 'see inside' human bodies for medical diagnosis). Electrical energy using a 'compressed wide-band' is used, both to give the 'spectral' coverage and to provide fast response to suit dynamic processes. The project aims to provide a demonstration level for specific trial applications; to offer licensees a clear path for onward development into the two product forms: a 'point sensor' form, to identify materials in its immediate vicinity; and a 'zone sensor' form, to identify the distribution of specific materials. Increased knowledge empowers design and/or control to deliver major benefits to process end users: increased productivity and product quality, reductions in emissions and waste products, reduced energy demand and resulting carbon impacts. In illustration we can consider the advantages offered in two product examples. Pharmaceutical compounds are produced using crystallisation processes which are highly variable and can have poor yields such that some batches may not meet tight product specifications. This results in waste of energy, raw materials, and in the costly disposal of the useless out-of specification product. Here a Spec_zone sensor can transform 'process-knowledge' to allow 'smarter control, and gain a major increase in 'on-specification' yield, gaining obvious major benefits. These are very high value products and hence financial business savings can be large. The manufacture of foodstuffs follows a conventional recipe: such as mixing and cooking natural ingredients such as chopped vegetables in water. Unwanted objects in the product such as natural materials such as stalks and large seeds, and unnatural materials such as small pieces of metal or plastic are a possibility. Although these may be unpleasant for adults in products such as soups (but still present a serious 'brand' quality issue for the manufacturer) they may be dangerous if present in baby-foods. It is easy to find metals, using x-ray detectors on a pipeline, but much more difficult to find small objects, such small pieces of plastic or wood which can be detected by the 'wide-band' Spec_point sensor.In conclusion the ability to estimate the presence and concentration of specific materials and their distribution offers major benefits in effective process management. The project will provide demonstrations and concept details to enable licensees to develop future products, based on the Spec_point and Spec_zone concepts. It will include detailed application sectors studies to highlight potential early adopters. It is supported by two instrumentation suppliers who have expressed a keen interest in evaluation, and both have diverse markets and customers who are likely to be involved in evaluations.
Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Organisation Website: http://www.leeds.ac.uk