Monofluid thermoregulation is a solution that offers important benefits, especially in application within pharma and chemical industry. These industries need to control temperatures in a bunch of production equipments, such as reactors, pressure filters, blenders and mixers. All of these machines require to maintain some rising or descending temperature ramps, involving a thermal range for the processed products that vary from low to high temperatures and viceversa.
An example is a reactor employed for the production of an active pharmaceutical ingredient. Starting from ambient temperature, the product has to be heated, and then maintained at a certain temperature. Then it has to be cooled, and then maybe again heated and so on.
Usually jacketed reactors are employed, with half-pipe coil or with thermal transfer jackets. Based on the temperature level required for the product inside the reactor, a hot or cold fluid is inserted within the jacket.
In the past, but still employed very much today, to achieve heating a hot fluid was inserted inside the jacket, vapor of diathermic oil for example. When the process needed a cooling phase, then vapor and condensate got completely discharged, and the jacket was then loaded with refrigerated water or glycol water. The ensemble of these discharging and loading operations clearly take some time, and thus can slow down the productivity. In addition, this kind of solution only offers a relatively precise control of temperature levels.
Hence, monofluid technology developed along the years. This technology employs in fact the same fluid as utilities – vapor, diathermic oil, hot water, refrigerated water, glycol water -, but they all flow within an array of heat exchangers. A unique fluid then flows inside the exchangers, which is able to withstand the temperature range required by the overall thermoregulation process.
This fluid flows then within the reactor’s jacket. There are clear advantages: downtimes are eliminated, related to discharge and loading operations of the different fluids. But most of all, the risk of mixing of the fluids is avoided. Which means there is no more risk of having antifreeze water flowing inside the boiler, or condensate ending up in the chiller, diluting the glycol water increasing the freezing risk.
Advantages are then significant, and clearly there are on the other hand some disadvantages. There is a slight loss in thermal exchange, indeed, due to the fact that the temperatures of utilities are a little bit higher and lower than the temperature of the fluid that flows within the jacket. But from an operative point of view, benefits are huge making it a largely implemented solution. Finally, there is no comparison in terms of temperature control that can be achieved: it is possible to operate using a switching valve, or bypass valves and regulating valves systems, that allow to obtain an extremely fine and accurate temperature regulation.
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