High-pressure dosing and chemical infusion are vital processes in applications ranging from pharmaceutical manufacturing to oil and gas extraction and treatment. Depending on the process and the materials involved, dosing pumps are required to handle fluids of varying viscosities under pressure, temperature, and flow rate-dependent operating conditions. Chemical resistance and compatibility may play important roles as well, particularly when working with caustic and corrosive materials. Syringe pumps which combine these performance features with high-accuracy flow monitoring and control offer distinct advantages in a range of capacities, from lab-scale research and development to process-scale operations.
Chemical Dosing Applications
Dosing pumps in general are tasked with injecting reagents into fluid streams to activate chemical or physical reactions. The composition of the injected reagent may vary according to the application, for instance an acid or caustic chemical to modulate pH or a flocculant to catalyze settlement of solids out of solution. The range of processes and associated applications make chemical dosing a vital component in many industries including: water treatment, agriculture, industrial, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, food processing, mining, and oil and gas.
Chemical dosing may involve injection of an additive to a solution in order to refine or alter the consistency, viscosity, or chemical reactivity of the fluid. In these and similar cases, dosing pumps typically function inline with the product source and the feed stream using a constant or pulsed injection method. Flow rates and chemical compatibility may vary, and specifications of the pumps should accommodate these parameters. Pumps composed of stainless steel or PEK may be necessary to prevent corrosion, melting, or bursting during infusions.
Chemical dosing concerns are especially relevant in high-pressure and/or high-temperature applications such as pressurized feed streams for bioreactors or injection of catalyst into reaction process streams. In these applications, the compatibly and resilience of the pumps are of paramount importance, as multiple downstream steps and considerable resources weigh on pump performance. Equally important is the ability to monitor and control the flow, pressure, and temperature of dosing to ensure the optimal conditions are met and maintained throughout the process.
Syringe Pump Flow Rate Control
Depending on the application and scale of the dosing reaction, syringe pump flow requirements may entail very small injection volumes or rates. A dual piston pump with micro-stepping ability and concise flow rate control is well-suited in this case. Lab-scale dosing for research and development may include flow rates ranging from sub-nanoliter to hundreds of milliliters per min, volumes which require flexibility in syringe sizes and exchange capabilities.
Pressure serves a significant role in processes such as supercritical CO2 treatment or mechanochemical processes such as those used in hydraulic fracturing (fracking). These techniques necessitate accurate high-pressure regulation to deliver liquefied gas reliably and precisely. Pressure is a critical factor in chemical applications where large back pressures and non-Newtonian fluids – or switching between different dosing pressures or fluid viscosities – are necessary. High-performance syringe pumps which can handle a broad range of pressures and offer precision control functions are ideal solutions for these cases.
Temperature control is another important syringe pump metric. Many flow processes require strict temperature control to ensure reaction conditions are maintained and heat labile components are not compromised. This is especially true under high pressure conditions where excess heat is generated as a result of frictional forces. Accurate and reliable temperature control can be critical to the success or failure of a dosing process in this context.
Syringe Pump Quality, Safety, and Reliability
Other important considerations involve safety, ease-of-use, and reliability. Due to the pressure and temperature factors, as well as the potential use of caustic and hazardous chemicals, the compatibility and build quality of the syringe pump are of crucial importance. Once methods are designed and parameters are checked, the syringe pump should perform as needed and provide robust reliable results. Programmable features enable the device for automated precision, and features such as touchscreen intuitive operation add to a positive user experience and an elevated level of overall performance.
When designing a chemical dosing process, many parameters must be evaluated to ensure the optimal results are obtained. High-performance syringe pumps that demonstrate flexible and accurate flow rates, high-pressure temperature control, chemical compatibility, and other important metrics offer ideal solutions for many dosing applications.
This article was written by LabX and published in conjunction with Chemyx.
Chemyx Inc. develops and manufactures microsyringe pump and high-pressure syringe pumps for a variety of R&D and manufacturing applications in biotech, pharma, chemical and oil & gas. Widely recognized for fluidic precision and innovative technology, the company is one of the market leaders in precision dosing, microfluidics, mass spec calibration and in related applications.
Chemyx syringe pumps are designed with advanced, highly durable materials that provide extreme laboratory precision at the best value to our customers. For more specific application requirements, Chemyx scientists also build custom units and can provide additional OEM manufacturing services that expand our customers’ offerings in the market.
A leader in innovation, Chemyx was the first company to develop the next-generation syringe pump with an interactive LCD interface and integrated syringe database. Today, Chemyx continues to push advancements in the laboratory services industry to facilitate and further the research of the world’s scientists, academics, and manufacturing companies.