Valve innovation optimises pharmaceutical processesValve selection is usually a crucial discussion point amongst design engineers, with traditional solutions generally based around diaphragm valve technologies. These solutions make use of very closely welded cluster arrangements, with the shortest possible tangents and optimised positioning according to draining/cleaning requirements. However, even with optimised design, the requirement for minimised hold-up volumes can often be compromised by complex valve clusters. This is because the more valves that are needed, the more welds, pipe lengths and T-pieces that are required, and, ultimately, the more hold-up volume generated.
In addition, valve clusters can also militate against fast and accurate flow shift, which is essential for process efficiency, producing higher product yield and more efficient batch control. If the accuracy of the flow shift is higher and more reliable, then the relationship between concentrated product and the separation step can be controlled more closely. This will subsequently reduce product loss and have a positive impact on the return on investment of the installation.
A further major challenge with the clustering approach is that, in larger systems the complex arrangement of valves, as well as their physical individual size, can result in large and heavy clusters that have to be supported, and be easily accessible for maintenance. In addition, the larger the valves required, the more overall space is required, and when considering the need for fully drainable and cleanable systems, this is not ideal.
Such challenges have led to technology and manufacturing advances, which have resulted in a new design based upon unique Robolux valves and custom manufactured stainless steel valve blocks. With this design, hold-up volume is eliminated by reducing - by half, or more - the number of valves, diaphragms, pipe fittings and welds required in a system.
Based on diaphragm valve technology, the new generation of patented valves combines independent dual process switching functions or '2 seats' in a single body with a single diaphragm and single actuator. The actuator has independent pistons, one for each seat, offering a compactly-designed multi-port valve requiring about 40 percent less space than traditional valve manifolds using conventional diaphragm valves. Since less material is used in the valve bodies, they can be heated more quickly to the sterilisation temperature required to destroy micro-organisms. A low internal volume, and elimination of dead space, also supports faster cleaning and, of course, means better process efficiency and higher product yield from the process.
Robolux valves are supplied with either manual or pneumatic actuators in sizes from 0.25in to 2in. They are manufactured with a choice of body types: 316-L stainless steel, ultra-pure polypropylene, polypropylene USP V1 and PVDF (polyvinyl-difluoride).
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