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Case Study

Acoustic Sensor Testing for Powder Processing

As part of the Chariot project, Cranfield University are developing a method to use acoustic sensors to monitor powder processes. Chariot is funded by the UK Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative which aims to harness new opportunities for particle technology and powder industries.

Led by market leading global industry partner Procter and Gamble, the consortium includes leading academics from universities of Leeds, Birmingham, Cranfield and Durham, Innovative UK based SMEs IIT and Ajax, and one of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult centres: CPI. Chariot has developed powder processing technologies to benefit a broad range of powder producing industries.

The Cranfield team began their conceptual work for the acoustic sensor in the university lab, mocking up powder movements in order to test their algorithms which would “decode” the acoustic data to give useful information about the powder process.

The team identified several possible applications of the technology including use as a tool to measure powder mass flowrate. To demonstrate the technology the viability of the technology, Cranfield worked with CPI to test their equipment setup in a representative industrial environment, with an appropriate scale and design of equipment, in this case using powder feeders designed and manufactured by Ajax.

CPI provided support to the Cranfield team with performing relevant risk assessments ahead of operating the experimental equipment on their site. CPI also provided operational support for the trials, setting up test conditions as recommended by P&G for their process, and partnering with academic experts to generate the required results.

The trials successfully demonstrated the potential for acoustic sensing to be used as a low cost way to monitor powder flowrates in an industrial setting. The compact nature of the sensor allows it to be easily attached to existing equipment, whilst providing robust data. Particle-wall interaction in the vicinities of the sensor produces clear burst in the measured signal, however the sensor will not pick up interference from acoustic events happening around the processing equipment.

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