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Automation of Batch Fermentation Processes for Energy, Agricultural and Biotechnology

Jan. 13, 2012
The batch process applications include energy, agricultural, and biotechnology and the laboratory applications include product development and testing in the chemical and environmental industries.

Process Description

ILS Automation (ILS) provides turn-key automation systems called the "AFC" of batch and laboratory processes. The batch process applications include energy, agricultural, and biotechnology and the laboratory applications include product development and testing in the chemical and environmental industries. The ILS AFC control system uses the IDEC FC5A-D12K1E PLC and corresponding communication modules to provide a cost-effective, reliable and flexible platform to meet the demanding needs of modern fermentation process development and manufacturing.

The development and manufacturing of enzymes and proteins based upon fermentation processes requires flexibility. Although many fermentation operations are similar, each customer has differing requirements regarding device integration and process control. In particular, customers usually require integration of a wide variety of serial and Modbus compatible devices. These RS232 or RS485 based devices include scales, gas flow controllers, valves, and specialty measurement devices. In the current ILS AFC design, two FC5A-D12K1E PLCs are utilized to take advantage of the serial and Modbus ports available. The two PLCs share data through an Ethernet Modbus connection. The devices that ILS has integrated include those manufactured by: Mettler Toledo (pH probes, dissolved oxygen probes, digital scales), Ohaus (digital scales), Fairbanks (digital scales), Alicat Scientific (gas flow controllers), Aber Instruments (capacitance probes), Endress & Hauser (flow meters), Knauer (ultraviolet and visible light detectors for liquid chromatography), and General Electric (total organic carbon analyzers). These devices usually support direct serial connections, but some also support serial over Ethernet communication, which the FC5A-D12K1E now supports. The WindLDR software is extremely easy-to-use and flexible and the most challenging user-defined serial protocols can be supported.

PLC Process Design

IDEC PLCs provide the first level of control for pressure, temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen and flow. The IDEC built-in PID function can easily handle the required process control loops. The auto-tune function provides the tuning parameters. In addition, the PLC sequences the steam-in-place (SIP) and clean-in-place (CIP) cycles. These cycles require special attention to safety and best implanted within the PLC. Customers also require supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) through external software. The built-in Ethernet port allows for direct OPC communication through the WindSRV software.

Features and Benefits of using the embedded Ethernet MicroSmart Pentra

The most powerful feature of the new Ethernet ports on the FC5A-D12K1E is the ability to simultaneously support multiple client/server protocols. This allows the OPC server to read/write data and use Modbus to read/write data while simultaneously allowing an engineer to monitor the program through the maintenance mode and WindLDR software. This is critical to supporting and developing ladder logic.

The included figure shows a typical application of the FC5A-D12K1E for data acquisition and control of a 1500 liter fermentation reactor. The reactor is utilized in the development and manufacturing of enzymes utilized in the food industry. The diagram shows that a variety of serial and Modbus devices are connected to the PLC. In addition, several Modbus compatible analog IO modules are also connected. The two PLCs share data through a Modbus connection and to SCADA software through an OPC server.

ILS Automation utilizes IDEC technology based upon the cost-effectiveness and core functionality. IDEC continually improves their products meeting the needs of their customer through enhanced hardware and software.

Figure 1 Connections Overview

Figure 2 Master and Slave PLCs