CASE STUDY | Scale Up Polymerisation Reactor

Ligar is an innovative company whose polymer technology is used for extracting molecules for either high value extracts or contaminant removal. Ligar is growing rapidly as opportunities for the application of their technology are identified, requiring them to upscale its manufacturing capability and bring it to market across the globe.

THE PROBLEM

Ligar has developed a technology to remove contaminants from a product or waste stream and extract high value molecules for refinement. The technology creates Molecularly Imprinted Polymers (MIPs) that can be used on an industrial scale.

This technology is a game changer. With a lot of products, they are only of value when they are in sufficient concentration to be useful. By singling out the molecules of value in a low concentration flow the MIPs absorb only what is wanted, leaving the undesireables to flow though. (An example of this is CBD from cannabinoid oil). Conversely, many production processes can leave contaminants either in the product or in the waste stream, both of which are undesirable. The MIPs can extract just what is unwanted, and leave the rest of the product unchanged. (An example of this is smoke taint in wine when fires around vineyards can leave a bad taste on the grapes which is transferred to the wine).

To move to an industrial scale, Ligar needed first to prove that their technology could be scaled up from lab scale (one litre reactor) to industrial scale (200 litre plus reactors). The first step was to prove that the process could be scaled up in a representative piece of equipment that was flexible enough to allow for adjustments in the process. These pieces of equipment are typically very expensive to buy off the shelf and may not be optimised for the process.

THE SOLUTION

Caliber Design was asked to look at Ligar’s current process and work with the chemists and process engineers to develop a 10 litre reactor. Chemists would scale up their process to 10 litres, and work through any bugs, before committing to large scale manufacture.

Caliber Design’s Project Engineer worked with all stakeholders, subcontractors and suppliers to first specify the equipment to meet everyones needs. From there the reactor was designed and manufactured locally to the required standards, then installed and commissioned on site. Throughout the testing and learning phase conducted by the chemists, Caliber’s Poject Engineer was on hand to support and troubleshoot any issues discovered.

THE RESULT

Thanks to a rigorous design and testing process, Ligar were able to commission a new piece of equipment that was built for their specific needs at a fraction of the cost of an off the shelf version.

Ligar saved and time money by being able to bring on skilled and experienced seconded resource when they needed it. This meant they didn’t have the hassle of recruiting a full time mechanical engineer inhouse to do the design.

Ligar Polymers
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