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Measurement potential of Liquid Investigation by Refraction Analysis


This proposal is prepared with the help of an Exploratory award which included an Economic Impact Assessment and a Research Feasibility Study. It outlines a work programme which w ill develop the technology necessary to employ Liquid Investigation By Refraction Analysis (LIBRA) to the measurement of the relative concentrations of two liquids in a mixture. A simple level switch, which is presently manufactured by Detection Instruments (Northern) Ltd., will be redesigned to provide the basis of the new instrumentation. Opportunities for the exploitation of the technology will be found across a wide range of industrial applications if the project is successful. The measurement instrumentation which will result from the project will provide a set of simple, flexible and adaptable devices capable of measuring concentration in a variety of fluid mixtures. The Economic Impact Assessment investigated three potential market applications of LIBRA technology (marine vessel engines, brewing industry and oil industry uses). The author identified potential sales of 500 units per annum within the EU and up to 2000 units per annum outside the EU. This represents a total market value of approximately 10 MECU per annum. The results of the feasibility study indicate that measurement will be possible in a variety of liquid mixtures. It will be relatively simple to achieve accurate measurements in clear mixtures such as water and alcohol. Measurements in opaque mixtures such as oil and water emulsions will be more difficult to achieve. However. such measurements should be attainable via careful development of the optical design and analysis software of the device. The project partners will develop the specific hardware and software required to make measurements in real industrial processes. As a result a true estimate of the commercial potential of the measurement technique will be obtained. To this end two sets of field trials are proposed: 1 ) The measurement of alcohol levels during the brewing process at Bierbrouwerij "de Schaapskooi", Tilburg, The Netherlands. This will provide a brewery with the means to monitor alcohol levels at any stage in the brewing process without the need for sampling followed by laboratory analysis. Accuracy as low as 500ppm may be attainable through improvements in the design of the instrument. 2) The measurement of water fraction in heavy diesel fuel oil in an emulsifier unit prior to injection into marine diesel engines (supplied by MAN B &W). Water is mixed with the fuel oil in order to reduce emissions of Nitrox gases from the exhaust. The process can only be optimised if the concentration of water in the emulsifier unit can be monitored and controlled to achieve the best operating mixture for each operational mode of the engine. This project may provide a measurement technique which will become a relatively cheap and reliable means of achieving suitable instrumentation. In addition the main RTD Performer (Heriot-Watt University) will test the ability of a LIBRA based device to detect particulate contamination in hydraulic fluids. Manufacturers of large earth moving machinery (JCB and New Holland) will supply the clean and contaminated liquids for testing the instrumentation. The project partners will also attempt to identify new market areas for the application of LIBRA as its potential is investigated during the project. A full database of the performance of the instrumentation for the analysis of a variety of fluid mixtures will be produced and the results published at the conclusion of the project.


Detection Instruments (Northern) Ltd.
Bonnyton Industrial Estate, Unit 5
KA1 2NP Kilmarnock
United Kingdom

Participants (8)

Bergen Dieselcontact AS

5051 Laksevaag
United Kingdom
Riccarton Lord Balerno Building
EH14 4AS Edinburgh
JC Bamford Excavators Ltd.
United Kingdom

ST14 5JP Rocester
K-Patents Oy
01511 Vantaa
2450 Copenhagen
New Holland
United Kingdom
Cranes Farm Road
SS14 4AB Basildon
Pektron Limited
United Kingdom
Alfreton Road
DE21 4AP Derby
36/132,Via Pastorino
16162 Genova