The fitness of most liquid or melt products for final packaging or further processing is dictated in large part by the molecular architecture of the material in question. The flow properties of the material are an accurate measure of the molecular architecture and so can provide a good measure of the quality of the processed product. In general the rheology, specifically the viscosity, of these materials is amongst the most critical flow properties.
In-line monitoring of the viscosity is possible, using a sensor which protrudes into the flowing material and can be mounted in a vessel, or in-the-pipe. These sensors are capable of delivering a measure of the viscosity of the process material directly to the operator. The feedback is immediate, and directly from the process, so informed decisions can be made based on current information.
In this way data about the current extent of a reaction, mixing or separation process can be determined by the changes in the viscosity (i.e. the molecular architecture) of the liquid in question. Hence, subsequent reactions, recipe additions or transfer of the product to subsequent processes may be optimised to ensure the highest quality product, with minimum losses through over- or under-processing (and associated reprocessing, product down-grading or outright product loss).
In-line viscosity monitoring can be used to save costs incurred by losses, reprocessing or regrading, whilst ensuring that downstream process requirements and/or customer expectations are not compromised.