We have taken our X2000 videoscope on a mission. The mission was to use the X2000 in fermenters and bioreactors to determine their maintenance requirements. In today’s article, we will talk about what fermenters do, how they work, and, of course, how to inspect them using a videoscope.
What do fermenters do, and why are they important?
Microbes play a vital role in the mass production of chemicals.
Various industries rely on these chemicals, such as in medicine, where insulin and penicillin are needed to treat patients. One way to make chemicals with microbes is through fermentation. In short, fermentation is a process in which a substance breaks down into a simpler one. It is a process where organic molecules (mainly carbohydrates) convert into acids, gases, or alcohol. The purpose of a fermenter is to provide a controlled environment for this process.
Safety and reliability
For safety and efficiency, fermenters must fulfill numerous requirements and industry standards, such as ASME, BPE, or the FDA. One of these requirements is that they can be operated aseptically (free from contamination) and should be reliable for long-term operation. Therefore, regular inspections are necessary to ensure safety and increase the equipment’s lifetime.
Inspections and determining weld quality
Typically, fermenters are made from stainless steel because they don’t rust. That is because corrosion could affect the microbes during fermentation. Crucial are the weldings and welded parts because incorrect welding can diminish corrosion resistance and poses a risk of contamination. Visual inspection plays a crucial role as the first line of defense against faulty equipment, a lack of maintenance, and long downtimes, which can cause excessive costs.
The X2000 in fermenters and bioreactors
For visual inspections, videoscopes offer a simple but effective solution. However, not all videoscopes are created equal, and fermenter inspections have a few caveats that require the right equipment for the job. In our example, we inspected a fermenter consisting of a stainless-steel platform, a 1,200-litre PED-tested fermentation tank, four seed tanks, various utility lines connected to the technical area, numerous discharge lines, and a jacket for heating and cooling.
For the inspection, we used our X2000 with a 3.9mm probe with a length of 3 meters. The goal was to inspect the welds and search for corrosion.
Small entry points
The 3.9mm insertion probe has proven greatly beneficial during this inspection as the entry points to the various pipes are of a small diameter. Mitcorp insertion probes are not articulated via a servo motor but by mechanical wiring. Mechanical wiring provides instant feedback to the operator, allows maneuvering freely, and offers the necessary flexibility to reach even the most hidden parts of machinery.
Stainless steel is known to be reflective and poses a challenge for most videoscopes. For cameras, it is typically hard to illuminate dark areas with shiny surfaces without creating distracting glare spots that can potentially lead an inspector to miss the often-tiny defects within machinery. Mitcorp provides anti-glare technology and manual exposure helping you to take clear images without distracting glare spots. And because our insertion probes produce footage in HD quality, even tiny flaws are easily identifiable.
When inspecting welds, there are numerous factors to consider. Is the weld even? Are there any bumps? Is there a lack of penetration or excessive penetration? Even the color is critical as it can indicate a too high or low amount of oxygen used during the welding process. If the weld has a blueish coloring, it can signal impacts on its corrosion resistance. Often it is difficult to detect issues with the coloring as videoscopes or cameras, in general, tend to produce images that are not true-to-color. Luckily, Mitcorp offers manual white balance and powerful auto white balance functions that ensure the detection of corrosion or wrongly colored welds.
As previously mentioned, fermenters have to fulfill many industry standards. That results in a lot of reporting for the inspectors and can be a tedious task. For that, Mitcorp offers an intelligent file management program and easy-to-use reporting software for precisely these situations. You can read more about our report generation software here.
If you are looking for a videoscope solution for your business, don’t hesitate to contact us. We will be more than happy to consult you!