Multi-faceted powder testing with the FT4 Powder Rheometer from Freeman Technology (Tewkesbury, UK) is delivering significant economic gains for Haldor Topsøe (Lyngby, Denmark), a global leader in high performance catalysts and proprietary technology for the chemical and refining industries. Having developed robust design protocols for powder transportation equipment the company can now reliably identify which solution is most suitable, measuring just three powder properties. Beyond equipment selection Haldor Topsøe are also using the tester to identify new or alternative raw materials that will process efficiently, reducing the risk of unplanned shutdowns.
“We use all the test capabilities of the FT4 Powder Rheometer,” said Ninna Halberg Jokil, Manager, Global Manufacturing Development, Haldor Topsøe “because different dynamic, shear and bulk powder properties are relevant to different process steps. The design criteria for powder transportation equipment allow us to choose between a pneumatic conveying system and a fluid diaphragm pump which costs around one-third of the price. This equates to a saving of ~300,000 Kr (~£40,000) on every installation that we successfully tackle with the less expensive option.”
Haldor Topsøe has determined that fluid diaphragm pumps are suitable for powders with a certain compressibility. Powders with an appreciably higher compressibility require a pneumatic conveying system while those with intermediate compressibility can be successfully differentiated using permeability and cohesion values. Compressibility and permeability are bulk powder properties, cohesion is a shear property; all three can be measured with the FT4 Powder Rheometer.
“When it comes to a broader assessment of whether a new supply or feedstock will process well, we find dynamic testing equally important,” said Ninna Halberg Jokil. “We’ve established a database with around 25 properties for each of 75 powders in our raw material portfolio and we’re regularly adding to it. For a routine assessment of whether a powder will process well we rely on dynamic, shear and bulk powder properties, in combination.”
The FT4 Powder Rheometer measures a range of dynamic properties, testing the powder in motion to generate metrics with proven relevance to the in-process behaviour of powders in a wide range of applications. In combination with shear and bulk measurement capabilities this allows the instrument to robustly capture all aspects of powder behaviour. For Haldor Topsøe, dynamic properties used to assess raw materials include Basic Flowability Energy (BFE), a sensitive measure of flowability, and Stability Index (SI) a metric that quantifies the physical stability of the powder.
“The savings we accrue from raw material testing are more difficult to quantify than those associated with equipment selection, but we have efficiently rejected supplies that would have been detrimental to manufacturing efficiency, on the basis of test data. Being able to differentiate a powder with poor performance without a plant trial and the associated risk of blockages is a major gain. There is no doubt that the FT4 Powder Rheometer has helped us to make significant savings and it is now an integral part of our analytical capability.”
Freeman Technology, a Micromeritics company, specialises in systems for measuring the flow properties of powders and has over 15 years’ experience in powder flow and powder characterisation. Expert teams provide comprehensive support alongside the company’s range of products.
Systems are installed around the world across a diverse range of industries. They deliver data that maximise process and product understanding, accelerating R&D and formulation towards successful commercialisation, and supporting the long term optimisation of powder processes.
Freeman Technology is headquartered in Gloucestershire, UK, with operations and distribution partners in key global territories.