Emergence - Emergence

In-situ real-time kinematic viscosity measure on fluid flow without calibration – VISCOFLOW

Innovation in Viscosity Measure for a better quality of fluids production

The on-line in situ measure of the fluids quality (petrochemicals, agronomy, cosmetics, chemistry) is a key point for the competitiveness of companies.<br />The developed sensor allows this in a simple and reliable way and without calibration, even under aggressive environments.

Shear without destruction, a challenge for quality

The problem associated with this new technology, developed to enable the in situ measure of the viscosity, is to be able to shear the fluid at very low to very big rates without destabilizing it. For example, the risk of a too strong excitement of a cream is to see the emulsion collapsing. It is nevertheless the obtaining of this rheogram on a wide range of shear rate that interests the industry to know how behave their products and in which phase of maturation is the manufacturing line.<br />The work of R&D thus focuses on the development of an equipment adapted to an industrial use to test it in real conditions and bring the scientific and technical solutions which will allow to validate its adequacy to the current constraints of production, for any field of application.

To understand the phenomena which control the flow in the sensor (made of a permeable medium, such a membrane), several test benches were set up to cover a wide range of flow conditions (fluid nature, flow speed, operating conditions, range of measure). So, the multi-scale approach allows exchanges between research and development so that the theory feeds the practice which, in return, pushes the first one which cannot envisage everything in a coupled way from the beginning.

The results are found in several categories: economic, scientific, technological, innovation.
On the economic plan, this sensor is at first a source of activity thus of income both for the laboratory and the company in charge of the technologic transfer.
Scientifically, this work gives a return in terms of understanding and of publications. It generates exchanges between researchers which feed collaborations.
Technologically, the advance obtained thanks to this sensor allows to obtain measures which were imposible until then.

It has consequences in term of innovation because the sensor allows to formulate products which were not possible to obtain due to a lack of capacity of measure, thus control and monitoring.
Besides the scientific publications connected to the work of the laboratory, this project allows exchanges, internships, hiring, partnerships with other complementary companies of the domain.

The sensor has been patented and then licenced to a start-up GVTech which extended it.
• N. Gascoin, et al., Flow Measurement and Instrumentation, vol. 22 (2011), pp. 529-536
• N. Gascoin, et al., Procédé De Mesure De La Viscosité D'un Fluide Et Viscosimètre, FR 11 53829, PCT/FR2012/050988

The Viscoflow project of the PRISME laboratory (University of Orleans) aims at valuing its invention linked to the fluid and quasi-solid flow viscosity measures by an in-situ real-time technique. Its objectives require financial support for the valuing strategy, born from a common strategy and thinking of the principal investigator and the SUREO (valuing service of the University of Orléans). This strategy, initiated in end of 2010, has been defined to reach to the innovating spin-off creation. It concerns the intellectual protection, the market knowledge and technical development. Thus, Viscoflow is a strong part of the technical aspect of this overall strategy which will ensure the technologic transfer from the lab methodology to the industrial process sensor.
Historically, the intellectual protection of the discovery has been ensured through the OSEO technologic transfer fund (SOLEAU envelop and then patent in May 2011). A research for partners enabled later to identify a former student from the University of Orléans, with a degree in Management, in order to co-support this project with one of the inventors (Spin-off expected with a global exclusive licence). The team is under incubation with ARITT Centre and it has been awarded by the national price for start-up creation in the Emerging category (OSEO/MESR). A market study enabled to identify the key sectors (petrochemical and polymers) and to verify that the market is accessible to the spin-off.
To give a better idea of the interest of the invention, the kinematic viscosity is for example linked to the uniformity of the fuel injection in car engines, so to their specific consumption and related pollution. The sensor will thus be of interest in the conception of future new engines. Other examples do exist in food industry (juice quality), in cosmetic industry (cream texture) or petrochemical plants (diesel/gas separation).
Presently, the scientific and technical difficulties of the sensor adjustment must now be solved by straightening the concept and by supporting the invention in order to ensure the technologic transfer. The Viscoflow project presents 3 main objectives which must:
• ensure the accuracy and reliability of the sensor by unlocking scientific lockers,
• demonstrate its robustness in real situation by unlocking technic lockers,
• propose a prototype at a pre-industrialisation step which will have unlock the identified technologic lockers.
This work will be based on the hiring of a full time development engineer and on the conception of a prototype. It will focus on the solution of the clogging of the system and on the solutions to ensure the life time of the sensor between two maintaining operations, to quantify the uncertainties and excesses as a function of the fluid to be measured and to verify the operability of a process through an automation and the control of systems by the sensor. Two industrial test sites have already be identified (BP, SOPREMA) and a bench with a mass flow rate 1000 times higher the one realisable in the lab is provided by the Pole Capteurs et Automatisme of Bourges.
A strong gain in credibility is necessary to make this project to become a reality through the creation of the spin-off by the co-supporters. This is what is expected through the Viscoflow project. This will later help the spin-off to find additional funds to develop the activity of the spin-off.

Project coordinator

Nicolas GASCOIN (Laboratoire Pluridisciplinaire de Recherche en Ingénierie, Systèmes Mécanique et Energie) – nicolas.gascoin@insa-cvl.fr

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.

Partner

PRISME Laboratoire Pluridisciplinaire de Recherche en Ingénierie, Systèmes Mécanique et Energie

Help of the ANR 247,153 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: March 2012 - 24 Months

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