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System modeling and device development for passive acoustic monitoring of a particulate-liquid process

Tramontana, Manuel and Gachagan, Anthony and Nordon, Alison and Littlejohn, David and O'Leary, Richard and Mulholland, Anthony J. (2015) System modeling and device development for passive acoustic monitoring of a particulate-liquid process. Sensors and Actuators A: Physical, 228. pp. 159-169. ISSN 0924-4247

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This paper presents the development of a passive ultrasonic monitoring system for the detection of acoustic emission (AE) created by chemical particles striking the inner wall of a reactor vessel. The finite element (FE) code PZFlex was used to analyze the complex interactions between chemical particles and the vessel wall. A 4-layer 2D model was developed comprising a liquid load medium and a glass-oil-glass combination corresponding to the jacketed vessel reactor. The model has been experimentally validated with excellent correlation achieved. The excitation function was derived from Hertz’s theory and used as the model stimulus corresponding to particles striking the inner glass wall. Analysis of the FE simulations provided the transducer specifications for a passive ultrasonic monitoring system. The system comprises two transducers with complementary characteristics: narrow bandwidth/high sensitivity; wideband/low sensitivity. Importantly, the sensitivity of the resonant transducer provides discrimination of particle concentration. Moreover, the broader bandwidth of the off-resonant device demonstrates potential for in-situ estimation of particle size. The performance afforded by this approach has considerable potential for real-time process monitoring in the chemicals and pharmaceutical industries.