Thursday, July 15, 2021

organic solvents in large volumes

Marek Janků

Specialist L3

The goal of our company is to produce products with organic solvents even in large batches. However, a fairly simple idea gradually began to prove to be far more complicated.

In oncomed, we have set up processes for handling large amounts of organic solvents. We know how to sample them, how to handle them, how to dispose of them and especially how to treat the risks associated with explosion.

However, all this changed significantly when we started designing new workplaces for handling even larger amounts. Suddenly, it was not enough to just repeat the known processes and measures, but we had to come up with a completely new concept.

New questions appeared, to which we gradually wanted to find an answer. The key issue was to determine the number of types of solvents and their volume, both in terms of handling and safety. It seemed as a simple task for the current product portfolio, but it was no longer easy for future unknown products. We spent many hours considering and preparing different variants of simulated portfolio scenarios and calculating the amount of solvents, but it brought more questions than clear answers.

These theoretical exercises made me came up with a few important things that I would like to share with you.

  • We calculated the maximum quantity based on the batch size of products and simulated weekly schedule. Therefore we knew that the maximum volume of the packaging unit will not be higher than 1000 l.
  • Another question was how to dose the solvents and whether it is reasonable to use manual handling for such quantities. The answer was easy – we want to eliminate manual manipulation as much as possible.
  • The number of solvent types must allow the possibility to substitute at least two with a new type.
  • A special solution for one solvent type which solidifies even at room temperature is necessary.

We had the basic parameters, but we still did not know how to solve the problem. When you do not know what to do, you have to ask others for answers. Therefore, we did a research for various technical solutions and connected various manufacturers operating in this field into a discussion.

Then, we organized a workshop which brought the greatest benefits. We put together the basic parameters and information about various technical solutions and drew the first variant of a technical solution which would fit into our production premises. We thought about the basic variant and discussed it over and over again, and then finally the tenth variant started to look as a good technical solution.

Now, we know how to technically solve the handling of solvents up to a volume of 1000 l. We know how to link it to other processes and we know what we need to meet customer requirements for highly concentrated products containing organic solvents.

This example is just a small part of a big project we are currently working on, and we hope to discover another interesting area next time for you.

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