Chris King
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Anhydrous Ammonia Control for Nitrogen Oxides Reduction

As a technique to reduce the level of Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) in boiler or furnace exhaust gases, Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) has been around for years. SCR is a technology which converts Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) with the aid of a catalyst into diatomic Nitrogen (N2) and Water (H2O). A reductant agent is injected into the exhaust stream through a special catalyst. A typical reductant used here is Anhydrous Ammonia (NH3).

A customer of Bronkhorst, who has been selling and servicing boilers and pumps for commercial and industrial applications for over 50 years, had been using a mass flow controller (MFC) which was not reliable and robust enough for the application and thus their customers were suffering from poor ammonia measurement and control.

Selective Catalytic Reduction example

Why use mass flow measurement in Ammonia Control?

Some NOx reduction systems are liquid ammonia based, and others are gas based ammonia. Whatever the state of the ammonia in the NOx reduction system Bronkhorst can offer accurate ammonia measurement and control. Systems in the field today are using the MASS-STREAM (gas), IN-FLOW (gas) and Mini CORI-FLOW (liquid) to accurately control the ammonia being injected into the exhaust gas stream so that proper reaction takes place without ammonia slip. Ammonia slip is when too much ammonia is added to the process and it is exhausted, un-reacted, from the system; effectively sending money out the exhaust stack.

There are very strict federal and state air quality regulations that specify the allowable level of NOx which can be released into the atmosphere and there can be very heavy fines if those levels are exceeded. The company needs to provide their customers with a reliable and robust solution. The application demands a robust and repeatable mass flow controller that is at home in industrial environments.

What kind of Mass Flow Meter or Controller can be used here?

In the NOx reduction system serviced by our customer the mass flow controllers are used to control the flow of anhydrous ammonia (ammonia in gas state) into the exhaust gas of a boiler or furnace where it is adsorbed onto a catalyst. The exhaust gas reacts with the catalyst and ammonia which converts the Nitrogen Oxides into Nitrogen and Water.

Bronkhorst recommended a mass flow controller – from the MASS-STREAM series - using the CTA (Constant Temperature Anemometer) technology which is ideal to avoid clogging in potentially polluted industrial gas applications.

MASS-STREAM mass flow meter

Let me explain a bit about the working principle of this kind of mass flow controller and why it is suitable for an application like this.

The CTA (Constant Temperature Anemometer) principle is essentially a straight tube with only two stainless steel probes (a heater and a temperature sensor) in the gas flow path. A constant temperature difference between the two probes is maintained with the power required to do so being proportional to the mass flow of the gas. This means the MASS-STREAM is less sensitive to dirt, humidity, or other contaminants in the gas, as compared to a by-pass type flow meter that relies on a perfect flow split between two paths. The thru-flow nature of the CTA technology is ideal to avoid clogging in potentially polluted industrial gas applications. The straight flow path and highly repeatable measurement and control capability, combined with the robust IP65 housing, allows the MASS-STREAM to thrive in tough applications.

  • Watch our video animation, explaining the functions and features of the Bronkhorst Mass Flow Meters and Controllers for gases using the CTA principle.
  • Check out the top 5 reasons why to use mass flow controllers with CTA measurement.
  • Want to stay up to date on new flow solutions? Would you like to receive every month the latest tips in your inbox?

James Walton
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Why using a Controlled Evaporation and Mixing system can decrease food waste

We are all aware that the current level of food waste cannot be sustained if we have a hope of reducing food poverty across the world. This is not just a Western issue; globally food is lost or wasted at different points in the supply chain. Today’s technologies, such as sterilization, can help reduce this spoilage. However, the strict compliance requirements will ask for continuous improvement of this technology. An analysis from the Food and Agriculture organization of the United Nations highlights some discrepancies;

• In developing countries food waste and losses occur mainly at early stages of the food value chain and can be traced back to financial, managerial and technical constraints in harvesting techniques as well as storage and cooling facilities.

• In medium- and high-income countries food is wasted and lost mainly at later stages in the supply chain. Differing from the situation in developing countries, the behavior of consumers plays an important role in industrialized countries.

So, where can we make a difference?

Looking at the graph of food losses below, and the statements above, we can see that it is worthwhile to invest in production techniques, potentially to increase the shelf life of packaged food. This would have a positive impact on the waste of food in developed countries.

Food losses

[source: http://www.fao.org/save-food/resources/keyfindings/en/]

One of the ways to improve these figures is to improve the sterilization of the packaging that food is placed in, to reduce spoilage and increase shelf life. This is the point where Controlled Evaporation Mixing (CEM) systems come in the picture.

Bronkhorst share in extension of the shelf life

Sterilisation of packaging to extend shelf life is not something new, it already has been done for years. I believe the first aseptic filling plant for milk was already presented in 1961. However, it is a technology which has been improved tremendously throughout the years and still is improving. Bronkhorst has an extended range of instruments which can support you in this process. An ingenious development in this area is a Controlled Evaporation and Mixing system (also called a CEM), as one compact solution for industrial processes such as sterilization. The compact solutions consist of various type of instruments, such as liquid and gas flow meters and an evaporator.

Using Controlled Evaporation Mixing (CEM) systems for sterilisation

The challenge given to Bronkhorst via a customer that was using a Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2) mix (containing 35% of H2O2 and water) to decontaminate carton and plastic packaging for liquid and cream filling. Using a mix of H2O2 is an excellent way to do this, because it is great at killing bacteria and can be easily evaporated. Bronkhorst is an experienced supplier of this kind of solutions.

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To get the best production with minimal waste you need to:

  1. Dose the correct amount of H2O2 mixture
    • Too much and the final product is spoiled
    • Too little and the residual bacteria is too high
  2. Avoid de-gassing of the H2O2 mix
  3. Have a controlled flow that condenses on the inside of the package
  4. Limit the flow. If it’s too high it will increase drying time at the end of sterilisation

The best result for this application was given by vapour generation combined with a Coriolis mass flow meter. Because H2O2 mixtures are not particularly stable this results in changing physical properties. Adding a Coriolis mass flow meter to the CEM made the measurement of mass flow medium properties independent. Furthermore as the Coriolis instrument is capable of measuring medium density, it can be used to monitor the concentration and thus watch over quality of H2O2.

Using a CEM system has some real advantages:

  • Stable temperature of vapour
  • Stable concentration of condensation because of a controlled dew point of the mixture
  • All of the above is possible because the gas, liquid and mixing temperature are controlled

Benefits as perceived by the customer

  • Stable liquid mass flow, even if physical properties vary
  • Monitoring the concentration and quality of the H2O2
  • Monitoring and traceability of the sterilisation process
  • Mass flow control of liquid
  • Mass flow control of gas
  • Direct control of dew point through control of gas and air mixture
  • Increased use-by-date
  • Longer life of fresh food

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Controlled Evaporation System

Arjan Bikkel
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At Bronkhorst® we’ve experienced an increase in the demand for skids: a customized system that consists of various types of instruments such as liquid and gas flow meters and an evaporator. In this blog post we explain why we think that there is a correlation between an increasing demand for skids and the ability to compete in competitive industries.

Europe’s Solution Factories

We were triggered by a publication in the Havard Business Review by S.E. Chick, A. Huchzermeier, S.Netessine and others which analyzed applications from European manufacturing which deem themselves “excellent” in manufacturing and won Industrial Excellence Awards. It is remarkable that despite the fact that Europe has some of the world’s most stringent regulations regarding the use of labor, facilities, and equipment and relatively high labor cost, the factories that have won an Industial Excellence award have all prospered in highly competitive industries.

The four distinquishing factors as described in the article which made the winning European manufacturers succesfull:

  • They leverage data flows to integrate closely with their supply chain partners.
  • They optimize customer value across the whole chain, not just their part of it.
  • They harness their technical capabilities to offer a high degree of product customization for their customers
  • They cooperate with suppliers to rapidly improve their manufacturing processes.

In short- the winning manufacturing companies work with partners to manufacture solutions for other partners. It is a privilige of Bronkhorst to work closely together with our customers to design smart customized designs which support them with their specific needs. A skid is a customized system based on a standard concept. Customization of standard concept by leveraging the experience and knowhow of our customers and us as low flow experts seems to be an attractive offering for many winning companies in the industry for several reasons. We would like to share with you why we believe customers partner with us to create their own skid.

The four reasons why customized skids are popular

1. Focus on core business Companies are increasingly focusing on their core activities. They expect from a supplier to deliver complete solutions instead of only individual instruments. We engineer the skid together with our customers and deliver a solution in which all relevant instruments and accessoires have been integrated. The ‘solutions approach’ is explained in more detail in this video.

2. Purchase at one supplier On a skid we can integrate flow meters (thermal or coriolis), an evaporator, RH sensors, pressure indicators, pumps, liquid vessels and other third party instrumentation. All internal tubing in the skid will be assembled by Bronkhorst. This way, customers can purchase a complete solution at one supplier instead of individual instrumentation at multiple suppliers. The skid will be pre-tested and ready for use by the customer. Besides, the skid is pressure and leak tested and will be delivered including instruction manual. A bonus is that our skids are based on standard proven platforms which make the time to market meet the expectations of our customers.

3. Customized design Customized products, support and after-sales services support customers to distinguish themselves in a competitive market. All skids are designed customer specific. Even if the customer needs only one skid, we offer a solution. Besides, we offer support and after-sales services that fit with the needs of every individual customer.

4. Compact design The miniaturisation trend is observed in many places. Small components need fewer quantities of raw materials, in production as well as in (chemicals) use. Customers of high-tech machines would like to have their equipment as compact as possible. Machines have to be smaller in size, as floor area is expensive, especially in cleanrooms - the 'natural' habitat of machines that manufacture solar panels and microchips. A skid can be a very compact solution integrating multiple instruments.

Europe’s Solution Factories

Source: Europe’s Solution Factories by S.E.Chick, A.Huchzermeier and S. Netessine, Havard Business Review, April 2014 issue

Rob Giesen
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CO2 reduction is one of the major trends worldwide in the energy market. Nowadays alternative clean energy sources are more and more used to reduce the carbon emissions. One of these alternative energy sources is solar.

The global focus on CO2 reductions matches perfectly within the Bronkhorst principles regarding respect for nature and environment. Therefore contributing to the supply chain of a future energy source, in this case solar, is for Bronkhorst an interesting project.

Solar energy panels Solar panels will convert sunlight into electrical energy and can easily be placed in various locations as a decentral replacement of traditional power plants. A solar panel contains multiple wafers. Manufacturer Tempress Systems is involved in the diffusion doping process of the wafers and apply an anti-reflection coating.

The Tempress equipment contains Bronkhorst technology within the subsystem devolved for the generation of chemical vapour required for the diffusion doping process. Together with Tempress, Bronkhorst designed a custom made solution for this application

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Fit for purpose Due to the intensive collaboration between Tempress’ engineers and Bronkhorst, it was possible to design a ‘fit for purpose’ subsystem that is completely integrated in the Tempress system. The design was extremely compact. Furthermore the fully digital control of the custom made subsystem has been a huge advantage.

The power behind a successful solution One of the reasons for a successful low flow fluidic handling solutions development is the collaboration between Bronkhorst and her customer. The win-win situation is a motivation for both parties. Thinking of a compact ‘plug and play’ custom made solution which offers the logistic advantages of less suppliers, reduction in lead times and less inventory.
The new technologies which are developed on the road will help Bronkhorst to keep up with new possibilities for future projects.

I believe the success factor for the Bronkhorst Solutions team is the close cooperation with the customer working towards a joint objective. It’s like a good marriage; the subsystem does not work without the control system in the main system and the main system needs the intelligence from the subsystem in order to continue the innovative equipment status.

These are some thoughts about how a low flow fluidic handling subsystem can be part of a clean – solar based – energy future. I am proud, that I am a member of the team that realized this solution.

For more information about this solution, please read our application note ‘Boron and phosphor doping for solar panels’.

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Sandra Wassink
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In this week’s blog we will have a look at the growing Chocolate Confectionery industry and the trends in using flavors. Who else can do this better than a woman you should think… as 75% of the women against 68% of the men report that they indulge in chocolate.

Chocolate…a growing worldwide market of $100 billion once started with a simple choice between Milk, Dark or White chocolate. Nowadays the choice in variations is tremendous due to flavorings.

Chocolate as a seasonal gift is very popular. Around the holidays we tend to buy more chocolate. The top selling season for chocolate is not Valentine’s Day, as you might think, but Easter. In addition to treating oneself, mood enhancement is also a popular reason for the rising sales, especially for young adults. The majority of the chocolate buyers (particularly in the US) are looking for options with mix-ins as opposed to the plain/unflavored varieties.

The global chocolate market has seen considerable innovation in flavor and texture. New product development continues to be imaginative, with more exploration of flavors and textures in addition to the traditional sweetness. However the consumer base tends to be rather conservative as the most popular flavors currently are Hazelnut, Caramel, Almond, and Orange.

Older consumers tend to have a lower engagement with chocolate. The lack of interest reflects their desire to eat healthy. To regain this group of adult customers, companies have turned to tactics such as using alcohol flavors, organic ingredients, and premium positioning such as dark chocolate with Limoncello or chocolates filled with sweet liqueur.

HEALTY LIFESTYLE It may come as a surprise, but a healthy lifestyle, which is one of the major trends worldwide, is also responsible for a substantial growth of the chocolate market and that’s not without reason. Chocolate, specifically dark chocolate with more than 85% cocoa, offers beneficial health benefits, like: ‘Rich in Fiber, Iron, Magnesium, Copper, Manganese and other minerals’ ‘Powerful source of Antioxidants’ ‘Protective against cardiovascular disease’

The growing awareness of the health benefits of pure and dark chocolate is why consumption of chocolate is increasing. With the rising popularity of dark chocolate, the sales for other variations are also going up. People are seeking other ‘healthy’ variations, such as sugar-free, Gluten-Free, Kosher, or Fair Trade chocolate. Due to these ethical claims, the industry has seen a tremendous growth in variations. In order to enhance a healthy image for chocolate, functional ingredients such as fibers, protein, micronutrients, quick energy (guarana extracts), green tea extract, or chia seeds are more and more often being added to the chocolate.

COCOA The increasing demand for chocolate also has its downside. About 3 million tons of cocoa beans are consumed annually of which more than 70% is produced by four West African countries: Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon. Cocoa is a delicate crop and trees planted a quarter century ago have hit their production peak and the land they grown on are not as fertile as it once was. A large rehabilitation of land and trees is necessary to prevent the loss of crop production. Also climate changes are taking their toll. This results in high costs for raw materials and unstable economic conditions in cocoa-producing nations. To prevent a supply shortage, a number of well-known chocolate producing companies have decided to invest in rehabilitation of the land and trees to make sure that cocoa will be available in the future.
This in a time that developing countries such as China, India, and Russia expect to grow their chocolate sales volume by 30%.

MASS FLOW METERS AND CHOCOLATE Due to the tremendous growth of chocolate variations, using flavors and functional ingredients, mass flow meters and controllers find their way into the confectionery industry. Due to their accurate and stable features, especially when they are used in combination with a pump, low flow mass flow meters and controllers using the Coriolis principle are ideal for dosing flavors and functional ingredients.

The Bronkhorst Coriolis instruments will measure direct mass flow and are independent of fluid properties which means a set point change is possible within seconds and there is no need to disassemble the pump and recalibrate the installation. This is a huge advantage which saves a lot of time, and makes the process much more flexible.

Using the Coriolis instruments for additive dosing means less downtime between batches, traceability of ingredients, and higher product consistency and quality.

Additive dosing in the confectionery market

Coriolis principle using a pump for dosing application

Accurate dosing of confectionery additives

Confectionery market

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James Walton
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This week I felt it would be good to reflect upon some of the blogs that we have put out into the world and share with you some of our most successful work. I cannot define exactly what has made a blog successful but if you have an idea of you would like to see then please let me know.

Below are 5 of our blogs from this year, we look forward to working with you in 2017.

Nils Kupper talks about optimisation of 3D printers

Henk Wassink discusses our work with Machine Builders

Marcel Katerberg on our work to improve Infusion pump calibration techniques

Ric Besseling on the difference between bubbler and Vapour generation systems

Finally, our top 10 tips for installing Mass Flow Meters and Controllers

Happy New Year.

James