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OPUS: In- and On-line Particle Size Analysis in Highly Concentrated Suspensions and Emulsions

Ultrasonic Extinction from <0.01 µm – 3,000 µm

OPUS for in-/on-line particle size analysis in highly concentrated suspensions and emulsions.

OPUS installation within a DN200 process pipe

Measuring principle of ultrasonic extinction probe OPUS

Liquid dispersions with a high concentration of solid particles or droplets, often totally opaque, are typically found in production processes. For optical analysers sampling of a small partial flow of the main product stream combined with a high degree of dilution is required. Dilution not only causes an extensive preparation effort, but often changes the original state of the dispersion.

For such applications, ultrasonic extinction provides an outstanding performance for particle size analysis of suspension and emulsions. One of the major benefits of ultrasonic extinction is the ability to operate in highly concentrated mediums, which typically come along with wet process stages. A solid content between 5 and 50 % by volume is the typical range of concentration. These are perfect conditions for ultrasonic extinction, which by principle covers concentrations up to 70 % by volume – typical for paste-like particulate systems.

Instead of electromagnetic waves (light) ultrasonic extinction applies low energetic sound waves. These waves are passing through a suspension or emulsion with 31 varying frequencies. For the introduction as well as the detection of sound waves a piezo-electric RF-generator and detector set-up is used. The recorded loss of sound energy depends on the size and concentration of particles. A corresponding attenuation spectrum is determined and converted into a particle size distribution of 31 classes.

Using sound instead of light waves, ultrasonic extinction is independent of the level of transparency. Hence, totally opaque materials like ore slurries, water in crude oil or coke slurries, can be analysed. Furthermore, paints, sugar pastes, or pharmaceutical suspensions with high solids contents, rank as standard applications for the ultrasonic extinction principle.

In addition, the ultrasonic extinction method allows a rugged and robust probe design that resists typical process conditions such as high temperatures, pressures or chemically and mechanically aggressive media. The OPUS probe covers temperatures up to 120°C, pressures up to 40 bar and the entire range of pH-value. It is resistant to aggressive media and abrasive materials. For applications in hazardous atmospheres an ATEX compliant OPUS version is available.

The process adaptation of OPUS to vessels or to large pipes is simple and typically uses a 100mm adapter-flange. For smaller pipes or bypass-lines specific process adapters e.g., flow-through (FT) or bypass (BP) adapters are available. The sensor may be positioned in a standby (SB) rack.

The evaluation and presentation of all relevant and characteristic particle size distribution data is done with the high-performance and intuitive WINDOX software package. WINDOX performs both, the control of OPUS and data processing as well as the data communication to the process control system by TCP/IP, Profibus, Modbus or as digital or analogue signals.

For many years, OPUS (on-line particle analysis by ultrasound) is successfully operating in crystallization, grinding or homogenization processes and proves its manifold performances. With various applications, OPUS is repeatedly revealing new insights – not only in production lines but also in pilot plants and lab settings.

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