Students put theory into practice

With Insitec real-time particle size analyser from Malvern Instruments at German university

Students at HTWG Konstanz see real-time particle sizing in action

Students on the Process and Environmental Technology course at the Hochschule Konstanz University of Applied Sciences (HTWG) in Germany are putting theory into practice using an Insitec real-time particle size analyser, from Malvern Instruments, to study and control particulate process performance. Seeing and exploring the impact of real-time measurement can help students understand the role automation can play in improving manufacturing efficiency.

‘There really is no substitute for practical experience, so it strengthens our teaching to have this type of facility available,’ said Professor Dieter Schwechten. ‘Each year, 25 to 30 students from the course see for themselves how real-time particle sizing transforms mill or classifier control. With automation so well established across manufacturing industries this is increasingly important. We try continuously to modernise our lab equipment to teach state-of-the art- technologies and supply industry with the highly skilled engineers needed. It’s an approach that seems to work as our graduates never have problems getting a job.’

The pilot plant experience helps to ignite enthusiasm and interest for particle technology in general

As part of the school’s Particle Technology course, in the sixth term students are introduced to the benefits of real-time particle sizing through operating different types of equipment such as classifiers, jet mills, impact mills and pancake mills. Seeing the benefits of automation, both of analysis and control, is a central part of the experience and provides valuable insight into the processing challenges faced by specific industries.

‘We now have students who have gained their first experience of operation on this pilot plant, have gone on to work with Malvern as interns, and then ultimately to work for the company on a permanent basis,’ added Prof Schwechten. ‘This suggests that the pilot plant experience helps to ignite enthusiasm and interest for particle technology in general. And its value doesn’t stop there. I use the plant to support industrial customers in a number of ways, through mill optimisation studies, for example, or by providing batches of precisely milled material.’

The HTWG facility operates at capacities in the region of 0.5 to 3kg/hr. This throughput, in combination with the flexibility to operate with different mill and classifier types and the availability of real-time monitoring, make it suitable for optimization studies and the production of kg scale batches of material.