We’ve spent decades optimizing the performance of our chemical plants, making them more efficient, sustainable, and safer along the way. However, to make a step change in productivity, we need a more complete understanding of our processes. To achieve this, we need sensors which continuously monitor the chemistry in each process as well as the behavior of the factory equipment. This requires novel sensors that can withstand the corrosive environment of our plants.
Issues to consider
We use and produce highly reactive and corrosive chemicals such as ethylene oxide, chlorine, HCl, monochloracetic acid, and sodium chlorate. This puts specific and challenging requirements on any equipment we use in our production environment. We want to find cost-effective solutions, so any new probe needs to provide a clear cost/efficiency benefit over what we currently have in our factories.
What are we looking for?
We have two main fields of interest:
- Understanding and monitoring the chemistry that is happening in our processes: This will improve the output and safety of our plants and help us steer each process closer to the optimum from a raw materials, energy, and product quality point of view.
- Close monitoring of our production assets: This will allow us to optimize maintenance planning, minimize downtime, help avoid unnecessary maintenance, and make the plant safer by preventing accidental machine breakdown, e.g. by detecting corrosion.
Potential solutions include:
- Completely new sensors measuring key process parameters like pressure, temperature, pH, or chemical composition (e.g. very low levels of cationic and anionic impurities in brine) in challenging chemical environments. Besides sensors with greater sensitivity, new sensors with improved selectivity and low operational costs (non-invasive, not requiring chemicals, low maintenance) are also of interest.
- Protection mechanisms that enable us to use existing sensors in the demanding reactive environment of our plants, including methods which prevent or tackle sensor/probe fouling
- Soft sensors which make use of new/existing sensors in combination with modeling algorithms to allow us to monitor process parameter(s) which cannot be directly measured
We are looking for partners that can help us implement these new sensors. We are not looking to develop new sensors from scratch, but if we can bring together sensors and chemical protection approaches, we are happy to step in as a partner. For soft-sensor solutions we are looking for companies that have implemented example cases, within or outside the chemical industry.
For this challenge area, we are not trying to find or develop new chemical processes, nor are we looking for algorithms on their own. Solutions that require physical sample-taking are out of scope - we are really looking for in-line/on-line measurement approaches.
- Solution can be applied in, or complements, our existing manufacturing processes
- More than just an idea: in pilot stage or an early stage with a clear proof of concept
- Fit to current Nouryon technologies and markets (see leaflet on our challenge platform)
- Impact of the idea in the short term (revenue, quality, scalability, time to market, etc.)
- Quality and maturity of the team
If you think you have the solution we need, join our Challenge here.