The research program of PATLAB will concentrate on fundamental and applied research on flow-based systems and non-flow-based (discrete or batch-wise or semi-flow or conveyer belt type) systems with the main objective to satisfy the needs of an end-user with an intelligent interactive reliable low cost efficient process system. Validation of the results (accuracy and precision) of the final optimized methodologies involved in the end-product will depend solely on the discussions with the end-users and their requirements. This may vary from very high quality analysis (and purity) with a high precision and accuracy such as in final products to screening results (needing only a yes or no or in certain process streams where there is a difference allowed between the upper and lower ranges). Depending on the needs of the end-user, the program will focus on:-
● Truly representative sampling. Speed and truly, fully representative sampling is a key issue in any entire operating system and differs from process to process. Process streams in different parts of a petroleum refinery, in chemical processes, waste waters, beverages, food, pharmaceutical manufacturing, blood streams etc. differ and should be studied.
● Sample manipulation. Once a sample has been extracted from the operating system, it must be transferred to the sensing part of the analyzer with the assurance that it is still truly representative. The following aspects will be studied, developed and optimized to be reliable for long periods of time.
► Preconditioning. A preconditioning system if necessary, situated close to the sampling point, may be used to treat the sample in such a way to eliminate problems, for example by solid particles, droplets or condensates, which may lead to blockage or fouling of the sample-transport line and to regulate the pressure and temperature of the sample provided to the system.
► Sample transport. The sample-transport line, if necessary, must transport the sample from the preconditioning point to the analyzer in an acceptable time and without the composition of the sample being affected appreciably. Speed and representativeness are the keys issues.
► Sample-conditioning. The sample-conditioning modules, if necessary, are designed to ensure that the sample is acceptable to the analyzer, that it is still truly representative and that the analyte (or analytes) is correctly adjusted or processed and/or separated and in the best position to be detected by the sensing part of the analyzer.
● Multi-point multi-species real-time measurements or multi-analyte real-time platforms. These fundamental and applied studies will focus on the construction, behaviour and development or adaption of sensors/atomic force/imaging/spectroscopic devices suitable for at-line or on-line or in-line, non-invasive/invasive, non-destructive/destructive real-time measurements either single-point single species, but ideally multi-point multi-species. The latest PATLAB technology is the development of multi-analyte real-time platforms where nanotechnology can play a very important role.
● Flow-based synthesis. These studies will be devoted to micro-multistep flow-based devices with the concept of zone fluidics with the main objective the creation of a high value added high quality pure product (or products) using multi-point multi-species real-time measurements from raw material via intermediates to final products.
● Intelligence interactive management and control. These fundamental and applied studies will focus on all aspects of research and development of process systems for intelligence interactive monitoring and control and small scale synthesis with advantages of the technology and applications in informatics, mathematics, statistics and chemometrics using computer and information sciences with data acquisition, processing and transfer and automatic feedback process control strategies with intelligence interactive management and control.