Application Note: Gas-Phase Oxygen Sensors For Reduced Risk of Explosion
Boehringer Ingelheim Chemicals, Inc. is located in Petersburg, VA on a 200 acre lot with approximately 350 employees. The company produces Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients at this chemical manufacturing site with several unit operation steps including, pharmaceutical chemical reactions with solvents, crystallization reactions, and solvent extraction steps with centrifugation. The plant includes utilities, environmental treatment through scrubber systems, and wastewater treatment.
There are several batch reactor systems producing different chemical products. These reactors use solvents in the reaction to form the active pharmaceutical ingredients. The solvents are volatile and flammable. The reactors are blanketed with Nitrogen to prevent intrusion of oxygen into the reactor vessels. A vent header collects the vapors for feed to a thermal oxidizer to destroy stray solvents.
The following systems required fitting with gas phase oxygen sensors to ensure oxygen levels in the reactors’ headspaces did not enter the flammable or explosive range. Ray Price, a project engineer, at Boehringer Ingelheim Chemicals, Inc. was in charge of the project for fitting the reactors with gas phase oxygen sensors.