• Energy monitoring and quality control of a single screw extruder

      Deng, J.; Li, K.; Harkin-Jones, E.; Price, M.; Karnachi, N.; Kelly, Adrian L.; Vera-Sorroche, Javier; Coates, Philip D.; Brown, Elaine C.; Fei, M.R. (2014-01)
      Polymer extrusion, in which a polymer is melted and conveyed to a mould or die, forms the basis of most polymer processing techniques. Extruders frequently run at non-optimised conditions and can account for 15-20% of overall process energy losses. In times of increasing energy efficiency such losses are a major concern for the industry. Product quality, which depends on the homogeneity and stability of the melt flow which in turn depends on melt temperature and screw speed, is also an issue of concern of processors. Gear pumps can be used to improve the stability of the production line, but the cost is usually high. Likewise it is possible to introduce energy meters but they also add to the capital cost of the machine. Advanced control incorporating soft sensing capabilities offers opportunities to this industry to improve both quality and energy efficiency. Due to strong correlations between the critical variables, such as the melt temperature and melt pressure, traditional decentralized PID (Proportional-Integral-Derivative) control is incapable of handling such processes if stricter product specifications are imposed or the material is changed from one batch to another. In this paper, new real-time energy monitoring methods have been introduced without the need to install power meters or develop data-driven models. The effects of process settings on energy efficiency and melt quality are then studied based on developed monitoring methods. Process variables include barrel heating temperature, water cooling temperature, and screw speed. Finally, a fuzzy logic controller is developed for a single screw extruder to achieve high melt quality. The resultant performance of the developed controller has shown it to be a satisfactory alternative to the expensive gear pump. Energy efficiency of the extruder can further be achieved by optimising the temperature settings. Experimental results from open-loop control and fuzzy control on a Killion 25 mm single screw extruder are presented to confirm the efficacy of the proposed approach. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    • Low-cost process monitoring for polymer extrusion

      Deng, J.; Li, K.; Harkin-Jones, E.; Price, M.; Fei, M.R.; Kelly, Adrian L.; Vera-Sorroche, Javier; Coates, Philip D.; Brown, Elaine C. (2014)
      Polymer extrusion is regarded as an energy-intensive production process, and the real-time monitoring of both energy consumption and melt quality has become necessary to meet new carbon regulations and survive in the highly competitive plastics market. The use of a power meter is a simple and easy way to monitor energy, but the cost can sometimes be high. On the other hand, viscosity is regarded as one of the key indicators of melt quality in the polymer extrusion process. Unfortunately, viscosity cannot be measured directly using current sensory technology. The employment of on-line, in-line or off-line rheometers is sometimes useful, but these instruments either involve signal delay or cause flow restrictions to the extrusion process, which is obviously not suitable for real-time monitoring and control in practice. In this paper, simple and accurate real-time energy monitoring methods are developed. This is achieved by looking inside the controller, and using control variables to calculate the power consumption. For viscosity monitoring, a 'soft-sensor' approach based on an RBF neural network model is developed. The model is obtained through a two-stage selection and differential evolution, enabling compact and accurate solutions for viscosity monitoring. The proposed monitoring methods were tested and validated on a Killion KTS-100 extruder, and the experimental results show high accuracy compared with traditional monitoring approaches.
    • Shear and extensional rheology of hydroxypropyl cellulose melt using capillary rheometry

      Paradkar, Anant R.; Kelly, Adrian L.; Coates, Philip D.; York, Peter (2009)
      With increasing interest in hot melt extrusion for preparing polymer-drug systems, knowledge of the shear and extensional rheology of polymers is required for the formulation and process design. Shear and extensional rheology of three commercial grades of hydroxypropyl cellulose (HPC) was examined at 140, 145 and 150 degrees C using twin bore capillary rheometry at range of processing rates. The power law model fitted for shear flow behaviour up to shear strain rates of approximately 1000s(-1), above which measured shear viscosities deviated from the power law and surface instabilities were observed in the extrudate, particularly for higher molecular weight grades. Shear thinning index was found to be relatively independent of temperature and molecular weight, whilst the consistency index, indicative of zero shear viscosity increased exponentially with increase in molecular weight. Extensional viscosity of all grades studied was found to decrease with increasing temperature and increasing processing rate. Foaming of the extrudate occurred especially at low temperatures and with the high molecular weight grade. An understanding of the relationships between shear and extensional flows with temperature, processing rate and molecular weight is a useful tool for process design; optimisation and troubleshooting of Hot melt extrusion (HME) of pharmaceutical formulations.