System of Mobile Automated Reactor Technology (Lab of the future)

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Today’s Research Labs are primarily wet labs that usually operate 5 days a week, 8 hours a day using specialized skilled workforces. Operation around the clock has not been fully explored nor implemented due to various reasons including a lack of proper process monitoring, limited automation and control, unreliable remote operation and surveillance, and insufficient modularity and mobility.

If we were able to operate Research Labs 24/7, we would potentially be able to significantly improve R&D productivity.

The System of Mobile Automated Reactor Technology Lab proposes just that. It is equipped with the latest wireless instrumentation and process controls. The System of Mobile Automated Reactor Technology Lab encompasses automation, data acquisition, storage, video surveillance, and networking and communication, all within a safe and secure environment.

Modular in design, the Lab comprises three main units, all incorporated into one mobile skid (see Fig. 1):

Reactor Module

  • This includes the chemical reactor, all instrumentation devices (eg. temperature and pressure sensors, valves, pH and conductivity sensors, agitator motor and rotational speed sensor, video surveillance camera etc.)

Bath/Circulator Module

  • Hot oil bath/circulator with remote temperature set-point operation and over-temperature protection

Controller Module

  • This module houses the wireless remote I/O, video camera transmitter, VFD (Variable Frequency Drive), and power module.
  • The module handles secured bi-directional communication between all skid mounted instrumentation/controls and the main central remote DCS (Distributed Control System).

Fig. 1 Engineering schematic of the System of Mobile Automated Reactor Technology lab concept. 

Some of the potential benefits of the lab are increased utilization, lower labour cost, improved quality, increased productivity, minimization of ergonomic issues and increased flexibility due to modularity and mobility. The target markets for this technology are thousands of private, government, and university research labs across North America. 

Author: Harry Latchman

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