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FTIR keeps industrial processes under tight control

07 July 2008

FTIR (Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy) analytical devices measure and monitor the precise quantities of gases, liquids and solids in complex industrial applications – from semiconductor manufacturing to gasoline blending and remote sensing satellites.

Interferometer assembly in clean room
Interferometer assembly in clean room

Without these advanced analytical devices the production process would have to be periodically stopped while a sample is taken, carried to a laboratory and analysed. This manual process takes time, reduces process yield and has poor analytical repeatability.

FTIR analysers benefit from a fast and accurate technology that conducts highly repeatable measurements by monitoring the physical and chemical properties of a process stream.

Recently ABB highlighted four areas that FTIR spectroscopy has been used in innovative applications.

WORLD’S FIRST SATELLITE TO MONITOR GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS

An ABB spatial interferometer is a measuring device and the main component on the new Japanese satellite GOSAT (Greenhouse gases Observing SATellite) which is to be launched in 2008. The interferometer will collect and transmit precise measurements of the atmosphere’s carbon dioxide and methane levels at 56,000 observation points from 666 kilometers above the earth.

ABB also designed and custom-built the interferometer for the Crosstrack Infrared Sounder, the new generation of polar orbiting weather sensors, and is actively involved in developing the technology for the James Webb Space Telescope which will replace the Hubble space telescope in 2013.

CUTTING SEMICONDUCTOR CHEMICAL CONSUMPTION

ABB’s Wet Process Analyser reduces chemical consumption by up to 30 percent in the semiconductor manufacturing process. The analyser continuously monitors chemical concentration in a wide range of etching, cleaning and stripping fluids that are used in the wafer cleaning process. The device improves process control, increases throughput and extends the lifetime of chemicals from a few hours to several days.

REVOLUTIONISING THE WAY PHARMACEUTICALS ARE MADE

The global pharmaceuticals industry has initiated the PAT (process analytical technology) program to ensure all pharma products are of consistent and repeatable quality. This is to be achieved through continuous online analysis of the manufacturing process.

ABB has developed a scalable solution for PAT based on its ability to integrate FTIR technologies and various process analytical devices with its process control and plant automation platform. In addition to handling huge flows of data and achieving the objective of consistent product quality, the solution increases availability by as much as 40 per cent and reduces costs by up to 30 per cent.

REDUCING OCTANE GIVEAWAY

The complexity of gasoline refining typically results in refineries putting more octane into their products than is necessary. This costs money and reduces profitability. A refinery that produces 95.01 octane instead of 95 octane will "give away" about $6.7 million a year in profit on a production capacity of 200,000 barrels a day.

FTIR analysers significantly reduce the excess octane. They track gasoline properties precisely during blending to within 0.02 to 0.05 of the correct pump octane, thereby minimising the octane giveaway and increasing refinery margins.

Low-cost, high-performance analytics

The interferometer at the heart of ABB’s MB3000 FTIR is a small module used in satellites that ABB developed for the Canadian Space Agency’s technology development program. The MB3000 stands out for its compact and maintenance-free design, ease of use and permanently aligned optical system which ensures highly reliable and repeatable results.

ABB’s FTIR analytical business is located in Quebec City, Canada.

Image 1 caption:
An ABB spatial interferometer is a measuring device and the main component on the new Japanese satellite GOSAT (Greenhouse gases Observing SATellite) which is to be launched in 2008. The interferometer will collect and transmit precise measurements of the atmosphere’s carbon dioxide and methane levels at 56,000 observation points from 666 kilometers above the earth.

Image 2 caption:
Interferometer assembly in clean room


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