Skip to main content

Novel technique for in-process monitoring of surfactant production by small-angle X-ray scattering


In the industrial production of modern concentrated surfactants, which despite their high concentration of dry matter (>60%) remain pourable liquids, the precise control of water content is essential. Up till now, this was normally achieved through adjustments in a discontinuous batch process. The introduction of a continuous in-line measurement and control method would strongly increase the production efficiency and reduce waste. The main reason for chosing X-ray small-angle scattering (SAXS) as the measurement principle lies in the fact that this method "sees" only the relevant water content in the liquid crystalline phase and is not perturbed by macroscopic bubbles, which are always present in such products.

The objectives are to design, build and test a prototype SAXS camera system which can detect changes in lattice constance of +/- 0.1 Å (0,01 nm) in the range between 25 and 60 Å , and which can operate reliably and automatically in a rough chemical plant environment.
The hardware for four detector systems has been procured / developed. Assembly of the one detector has taken place, with others to follow very shortly. All reports up to year four were submitted and accepted by the EEC.
Partner 1 (IBR Graz, SME) is project coordinator and provides the physico-chemical know-how concerning the SAXS method towards conceptual and technical design. Partner 1 also performs the system assembly and laboratory testing of the prototype. Partner 2 (HECUS M.Braun-Graz SME) is concerned with the data acquisition and processing components and with the automatic measurement control. Partner 3 (M. Braun Garching, SME) performs the development of the controlled-environment system enclosure, necessary to maintain precision under industrial conditions. Partner 4 (OCSAM Udine, SME) is responsible for the development of optics components and the vacuum case of the SAXS camera. Partner 5 (Albright & Wilson) the industrial partners, provide their know-how concerning the industrial requirements in surfactant production, perform test measurements with conventional laboratory SAXS cameras to establish the optimal measurement strategy for continuous control and are responsible for the industrial performance tests in one of their plants after the prototype has passed the laboratory tests.

Funding Scheme

CSC - Cost-sharing contracts


17,Schmiedlstrasse 6
8042 Graz

Participants (4)

Albright and Wilson UK Ltd
United Kingdom

CA28 9QQ Whitehaven
M. Braun Graz Optical Systems GmbH
16,Angelo Eustacchio Gasse
8010 Graz
Officina Costruzione Stampi Attrezzature Modelli Srl
Via Della Tomba Antica 1/2
33030 Basaldella Di Campoformido Udine
U. Braun GmbH - Labortechnische Geräte
85748 Garching