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Process Analysis Technology

Why PAT Must Come Out of the Silo

| Author: Anke Geipel-Kern

Nearly 200 participants meet at the 11.Kolloquium Prozessanalytic in Vienna.
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Nearly 200 participants meet at the 11.Kolloquium Prozessanalytic in Vienna. (Picture: 11. Kolloquium Prozessanalytik)

The 11th colloquium on Process Analytics was held in the historical dome hall of TU Vienna under this motto. The nearly 200 participants were unanimous: process analytics must come out of the ivory tower and finally shed the perception of complexity. How is this to happen? How will the much admired trialogue between device manufacturers, science and industrial users be wrapped up finally?

Irrespective of whether petro-, polymer chemistry, biotechnology or classical synthesis methods — process analysis technology can optimize methods, increase yields and reduce costs. There is consensus among all the participants that the only thing left to be decided is the uses, methods like Raman-, MIR-, NIR- or UV/VIS spectroscopy have already been introduced extensively.

But PAT remains stuck. A lively, intensely discussion-loving community which pursues many approaches and options notwithstanding, one experiences a practical shock as soon as one looks at the chemical industry.

Spectroscopy is the Predominantly Used PAT-Technology

The lion’s share in the field of installed measurement points is classical process measurement technology, i.e., pressure, temperature, through-flow and filling level. The number of measuring points in the companies is increasing very slowly.

There are more than 80 PAT-compatible analysis methods, starting from gas measurement and gas warning technology, refractometry, density-, viscosity- and humidity measurement technology, para-magnetic oxygen measurement and photometry right up to chromatography and spectroscopy. Of course, among the complex methods only spectroscopy is used predominantly. And a critical view of the scenario shows a conspicuous, universal overweight, as far as method development is concerned. A circumstance that even PAT experts find alarming.

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