About iCspec

Short Project Overview

Project title:in-line Cascade laser spectrometer for process control
Acronym:iCspec
Call identifier:H2020-SPIRE-2014
Topic:SPIRE0-01-2014: Integrated Process Control, Type of action: Research and Innovation
EC funding:5 587 935 €
Project Status:Execution
Duration:36 months
Start Date:1 April 2015
End Date:31 March 2018

Objectives

The iCspec project focuses on the in-line process control of many technically relevant gases such as hydrocarbons. The main purpose of the project is to develop gas analysers beyond the state-of-the-art for fast in-line multi-component monitoring of gas compositions in a process stream and to replace currently employed analysers as gas chromatographs or Fourier-Transform-Infrared spectrometers. These extractive analysers are widely used due to the lack of alternatives, although they have (among others) these well-known drawbacks:

  • The requirement of complex and expensive sample handling systems.
  • Bulky and delicate equipment which is required to be placed in an analyser cabinet or shelter requiring long sample lines from the sample extraction point.
  • Long delay times due to the required sampling system and prolonged analysing times significantly affecting closed-loop applications.
  • Important maintenance costs due to extensive supervision and the consumption of expensive consumables.
  • Elevated pollution due to inevitable waste.

The projected development will solve the above mentioned draw backs by bringing cutting edge technology to the market and thus streng then the European competitiveness while reducing pollution. We will extend established laser-based in-line gas sensing to the mid-infrared (MIR) “chemical finger print” spectral range for multi-species detection and thus develop wide wavelength range Mid-IR laser gas analyzers for fast inline multi-component monitoring of gas compositions in a process stream. The developments base upon two key technologies:

  • the integration of mid-IR laser sources,
  • the advancement of spectroscopic and chemometric data evaluation. For this, novel semiconductor laser sources for MIR spectroscopy are developed and made available for the first time in the project. These laser sources will be integrated into in-line gas analyzing measurement schemes, whereas 3 demonstrator sensors based on 2 different techniques will be built:
    • Broad wave length tuning laser spectroscopy based on integrated single wave guide coupled arrays of Interband Cascade Lasers (ICLs) and Quantum Cascade Lasers (QCLs) in the 3 – 5 μm and 6 – 12 μm spectral range, respectively.
    • Wide wave length range multi-heterodyne spectroscopy based on ICL sources in the 3 – 5 μm spectral range.

The projected development will solve the above mentioned drawbacks by bringing cutting edge technology to the market and thus strengthen the European competitiveness while reducing pollution. We will extend the established laser-based in-line gas sensing to the mid-infrared “chemical finger print” spectral range for multi-species detection and thus develop wide wave length range Mid-IR laser gas analysers for fast inline multi-component monitoring of gas compositions in a process stream. The developments base upon two key technologies:

the integration of mid-IR laser sources
the advancement of spetroscopic and chemometric data evaluation

For this, novel semiconductor laser sources for Mid-IR spectroscopy will be developed and made available for the first time in the project. These laser sources will be integrated into in-line gas analysing measurement schemes, whereas three demonstrator sensors based on two different techniques will be built:

  • Broad wave length tuning laser spectroscopy based on integrated single wave guide coupled arrays of Interband Cascade Lasers (ICLs) and Quantum Cascade Lasers (QCLs) in the 3 – 5 μm and 6 – 12 μm spectral ranges, respectively.
  • Wide wave length range multi-heterodyne spectroscopy based on ICL sources in the 3 – 5 μm spectral range.
The separation of liquefied petroleum gas (mostly propane and butane) from crude oil distillation is the designated target application, though the projected analysers can be extended to other applications. The limitation to only one target application has been chosen intentionally in order to strengthen the focus of this multinational project while being able to develop and to test different solutions, which are required for the transfer of these analysing techniques to different molecules required by other applications. The demonstrators will be tested in a process control application at a crude oil refinery at PREEM where the online measurement needs to cover simultaneously C1 – C5 hydrocarbons. The application will be tested for three different gas streams in a (near) real time closed-loop process control, which is currently impossible due to the lack of suitable analysers on the market. The employment of the developed tunable laser spectrometers will shorten the response times of the analysis to a few seconds. This will speed up the process control loop, optimize the product quality and minimize waste. A real-time measurement of the gas components will make it possible to run the process closer to its optimum and reduce the margins for safe operation. Thus, these laser analysers will drastically reduce the overall maintenance costs. The proposed concept of iCspec will mark the starting point of the long expected technical revolution in process control towards (quasi-) real-time optimization processes with increased safety, reduced pollution and thus significantly reduced costs, not only for the hydrocarbon industry, but also for a large variety of adjacent industries, as e.g. chemical and pharmaceutical industries, employing these analysers.

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