The Role of Precise Temperature Control in Process Engineering

The chemical industry supplies almost every manufacturing company, relying on safe, efficient processes to meet its often strict production requirements. Because the majority of chemical reactions are either endothermic and absorb heat or exothermic and release heat, a reliable temperature control application plays a crucial role in the chemical industry.

Consistent, precise temperature control of individual process steps is a foundation of effective process engineering, and the use of temperature control solutions within process engineering applications ranges from laboratory benchmarking during the development of new materials and processes through to the ongoing temperature control of major industrial plants.

Applications and Processes in Process Engineering

Process engineering is an interdisciplinary engineering science that involves the 'technical and economic execution of all processes in which substances are modified according to type, property, and composition.' Process engineering applications will generally utilize biological, chemical, or physical processes to instigate material changes, often acting as an interface between production and the natural sciences.

As well as developing new materials and techniques, process engineering also encompasses optimizing the process steps of established methods. Increasing attention and importance is also being attributed to recycling and the recovery of valuable resources.

Temperature Control in Process Engineering

In the wider chemical industry and in process engineering, in particular, various process sequences are often bound to a single temperature or may be supported by a particular temperature control application. These sequences can, therefore, be made more efficient, with one such example being the continuous temperature control of casting media.

Maintaining the required viscosity requires material pipes, pumps, and the dosing unit to be heated alongside the storage tank itself. Efficiently controlling the temperature of the casting material during the whole process not only makes it faster and easier to process, but this also streamlines the ascent and exit of air inclusions, reducing production time and rejects while improving overall quality.

The Role of Precise Temperature Control in Process Engineering

Image Credit: JULABO GMBH

Temperature control systems used in this setting must be capable of reacting rapidly and consistently to changes, stabilizing the process where required. Ideally, the performance of these systems will be directly linked to the viscosity of the casting medium, automatically adjusting to the optimum range via adaptive temperature changes.

Dynamic compensation of exothermic or endothermic chemical reactions poses considerable challenges for temperature control systems, particularly where reactions are occurring in extreme temperature ranges.

In these instances, temperature control systems must be able to facilitate rapid compensation, providing consistent, efficient results while ensuring the safety of the process.

Reactor Temperature Control

The conversion of substances in biological and chemical processes will generally take place in reactors. Reactors are used to create a safe space for reactions by maintaining consistent temperatures, but this requires the use of temperature control systems that can offer fast, precise compensation across a wide temperature range.

Temperature control systems must react dynamically to temperature changes occurring within the reactor, compensating for these quickly and reliably before automatically adjusting back to the optimum temperature range.

There are a number of decisive parameters that impact the choice of the temperature control system. These include the process itself, the reactor size and type, the material (for example, metal or glass) and the thermal conductivity of that material, as well as the wall thickness.

Pump capacity, heat exchange rates, pressure build-up, and the efficiency of the temperature control system’s components must all meet their respective requirements if process reliability and effective material conversion are to be guaranteed. Should requirements deviate from the established standard, specifically developed temperature control solutions may also be taken into consideration.

However, in many instances, this is not required because most commercially available temperature control systems can be efficiently and easily tailored to meet individual requirements.

From Laboratory Benchmark to Large-scale Plant

Requirements for temperature control systems will generally depend on their range of application. A range of factors will be considered as new procedures are developed in the laboratory. These often include reaction and performance speed, a suitably wide working temperature range, and the ability to simply and flexibly switch between applications.

Temperature control systems are suitable for use in a wide range of applications, though their applicability for practical, everyday use will be defined by factors such as the device’s size and mobility, its capacity for water or air cooling and the positioning of connections and vents.

Consistent performance with minimal maintenance requirements and high energy efficiency are the main priorities for large-scale industrial applications, and because the units are generally only employed for temperature control in a single process, a lower dynamic range may be adequate.

Conclusion

Precise temperature control applications directly impact the production, product quality, output, and process reliability of process engineering and chemical reaction processes. As such, requirements placed on temperature control systems tend to be largely defined by their application.

Temperature control systems from JULABO may be individually tailored to most applications due to the broad range of accessories available, the wide temperature range achievable, and the instrument’s exceptional dynamics. Despite this range of options, individual, tailored solutions are also available for any application.

JULABO’s team of temperature control specialists are experts in the field of process engineering and reactor temperature control. They are always happy to advise organizations with a view to developing a temperature control solution that is specifically designed for any application.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by JULABO GMBH.

For more information on this source, please visit JULABO GMBH.

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