Automated Lab Systems, Projects

Some of our projects:

As example we describe two examples which we successfully automated, one in Inorganic Chemistry and one in Organic Chemistry:

Typical application in Inorganic Chemistry: Analyzing fertilizer at ICL Europe in Amsterdam

Fertilizers applications at ICL Amsterdam and Ludwigshafen Fertilizers applications at ICL Amsterdam and Ludwigshafen Fertilizers applications at ICL Amsterdam and Ludwigshafen Fertilizers applications at ICL Amsterdam and Ludwigshafen Fertilizers applications at ICL Amsterdam and Ludwigshafen


For Fertilizer, several specific analyzes are required and different techniques are used. We have automated for instance:
- Acid-Base titration (to determine free acid)
- Flow Injection (Various components like P2O5, K2O, N-NH4 and N-NH3)
- Spectrophotometric analysis if only one component is required like P2O5
- Moisture (to determine dry base content)
- But also more sophisticated techniques like Ion Chromatography (IC) used to determine N-NH3, N-NO4, P2O5, K2O, SO4, Cl, MgO, CaO, NaO and F.

In the year 2000 we automated at ICL Fertilizers Europe Amsterdam the full analysis of fertilizer using following methods:
- Water soluble content of various components using IC technology
- Total soluble content of various components using IC technology
- Water soluble MgO
- Moisture content using a Moisture balance
- Free acid using Base/Acid titration
Samples are introduced to the system by operators from the factory.
The robot performs the required sample preparation like dissolving in water, boiling in acid, even distribution in a petridish. Various parameters like stirring time, boiling time, amount of acid, Moisture program etc can be set depending on the product to be analyzed. The system is also capable to analyze fluid samples like acids or waste water.
The analyzers installed are IC's from Metrohm (both anion and kation), Balances from Mettler, Moisture balance from Mettler and titrator from Metrohm (end point titrator).
Results are reported directly to the central LIMS.

The system runs 24 hours/day, 7 days/week. It is capable of running over 4 days without human interference. Capacity lies round 200 analyzes, newer systems can run up to 600 analyzes/day. The system increased capacity, created flexibility (analysis on demand) and decreased running costs.

Typical application in organic Chemistry: Analyzing various end groups in fatty alcohols at Sasol Germany GmbH Plant Brunsbuettel (Germany)

Sasol werk Brunsbüttel Sasol werk Brunsbüttel Sasol werk Brunsbüttel Sasol werk Brunsbüttel Sasol werk Brunsbüttel


Different end-groups in fatty alcohols are determined to check the quality of the products. Depending on the type of product the following end-groups could be determined:

- Acid-number
- Saponification-number
- Iodine number
- Peroxyd number
- Hydroxyl-number
- Carbonyl-number

Analytical techniques that are used are dynamic titration (using Metrohm Titration with Tiamo software) and sprectrophotometric analyze. For weiging, a total of four Sartorius balances have been intergrated

The central LIMS creates a task list with all available samples. The operator selects the sample to be determined and is instructed to introduce the all required samples to the robot. When entered to the robot, the samples are diluted, reaction liquids are added and after reaction finally analyzed in one of the 6 titration units or spectrophotometer. The operator only have to change the liquids, take out the clean glasses and change the waste.

A few special issues in the Sasol application are: various heating blocks, use of standard Duran GL-45 glassware, A total of 14 different chemicals that can be dosed, fully automated control of Blanks and sophisticated liquid management (Block methods after liquid is empty or blind samples are missing). The system has a capacity of more then 500 analyzes/day and is 7 days/week on-line. Results are exported directly towards LIMS. HTML Reports from the system status for the internal intranet.