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Valve Interfaces

Innovative Valve Interfaces Promote Productivity

| Author / Editor: Marc Klingler / Anke Geipel-Kern

Riboflavin fluorescence in a Robolux multi-port valve body under UV light before (a) and after (b) rinsing with deionized water. After rinsing, no riboflavin can be detected (Picture: Bürkert)
Riboflavin fluorescence in a Robolux multi-port valve body under UV light before (a) and after (b) rinsing with deionized water. After rinsing, no riboflavin can be detected (Picture: Bürkert)

At its headquarters in Melsungen/Germany B. Braun Melsungen is currently investing € 164 million in the Life Nutrition plant, one of the world’s most modern production sites for innovative nutrition products.

The new facility with its integrated laboratory will manufacture and package products such as amino acids, carbohydrates and fat emulsions in two production lines. Among the special challenges: innovative, space-saving solutions for the complex valve interfaces required for the production technology.

The new factory was built close to B. Braun’s existing Life plant, Europe’s most modern infusion solution factory, which started production in 2005. From the outset, the project team for the new plant included operators from the Life plant as well as engineers and specialists from Chemgineering, a planning and consulting company commissioned by B. Braun. Drawing on their day-to-day experience, the Life operators were able to point out any potential problems at the conceptual phase.

Special challenges in the planning of Life Nutrition included the requirement that from the outside the new building should look identical to the older Life plant next door. Despite the resulting space constraints, the new production facilities needed to be significantly more efficient and flexible.

Maximum Valve Capacity in Minimum Space

Searching for space-saving solutions for the complex valve interfaces required in the new plant, Chemgineering contacted fluid technology specialist Bürkert in the spring of 2008. Bürkert’s Robolux multi-port valve is a way to create complex valve interfaces that are also compact and have low internal volumes.

Within a few weeks Bürkert had developed models for the first, especially complex, valve interfaces, visualized with the help of 3D PDF files. “The advantages of a Robolux multi-port system in comparison with conventional single-layer valve interfaces and ring systems were literally evident at first glance,” says Alexander Equit, National Key Account Manager for Pharma, Biotech and Fine Chemistry at Bürkert.

One Membrane, Two Valves

The special feature of the patented Robolux design is that one membrane can achieve two independent process switching functions. This reduces installation requirements, eliminates T-adapters and minimizes the number of valves and membranes needed. The multi-port membrane valves are designed to maintain high purity, and make it possible to design complex systems that are considerably more compact.

“With this technology, even a 10-port valve interface requires very little installation space, has minimal internal volume and practically no dead volume,” Equit explains. The small internal volume, in addition to improving flow and drainage properties, makes both cleaning and product changeovers easier and faster.

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