A new PR from UK instrumentation distributor Quantitech provides a wake-up call, on many levels. Hopefully readers of the INSIDER will already have been woken up to the technology awarement level. Quantitech has been appointed the exclusive UK and Ireland distributor for Focused Photonics Inc, a supplier of process gas analysers based on tuneable diode laser absorption spectroscopy. TDLAS is one my favourite technology adaptations that has made significant recent progress in process industry instrumentation: maybe on fairly specific difficult applications it’s true. Yokogawa were out there in front, buying the technology developed by Dow Chemicals in 2008 (believe me I had to look this up on the NickDenbow.com blog); Endress +Hauser has invested in it for years, big time, and then bought SpectraSensors too, in 2012; predictably, Emerson bought someone in 2014 (Cascade Technologies, a UK technology start-up. And again I had to find the name from an earlier article on this blog). Quantitech MD Keith Golding sees much wider application for these products, on the basis that Focused Photonics already have a world-wide installed population of over 8000 instruments.
The only other report that has quoted decent numbers was one earlier this year, and someone quoted hundreds of TLDAS units offshore measuring the moisture content in North Sea gas, – but the blog has failed to tell me who it was, on that one.
Golding also adds: “Developed out of Stanford University California, the cradle of TDLAS commercialisation, FPi was established in China in 2002 and now employs over 3,000 staff. We have visited a number of LGA installations and were very impressed by the standards of quality and reliability being delivered by these instruments.”
Indeed the FPi website confirms the above comments: they have a factory in Hangzhou, China, and claim “FPi is the world leading integrated solutions provider of process control and environmental monitoring. Since being established in 2002 by two elite graduates of Stanford and UC Berkley, FPi has specialized in analytical instruments innovation and manufacturing.” The two key personnel appear to be Dr Jian Wang, the Chairman, General Manager and Chief Engineer, plus Naxin Yao, another General Manager and Director.
“As a world class innovator in gas, water and particulate analysis technologies, FPI has been acknowledged for its expertise in DLAS (diode laser absorption spectroscopy), DOAS (Differential Optical Absorption Spectroscopy), UltraViolet, Near-Infrared, Atomic spectroscopy, Molecular spectroscopy, Chromatography, spectrophotometric colorimetry and electrochemistry.” The applications quoted include flue gas monitoring and CEMS systems, air and water quality monitoring, lab analysis and metal analysis systems, as well as process analytical instruments.
So here we have technology expertise developed by Western (US in this case) universities, then taken up by foreign research students, who, all credit to them, establish a business based on this in China, backed by Chinese investors, and the resulting products, and jobs, arise from this Chinese investment in start-up technology. Not quite what UK PM Cameron sees as the end result of UK University technology expertise leading to high-tech UK jobs. But just what China wants to invest in, to enhance their industry.
Typical FPi applications include ammonia slip control, HCl measurement for sorbent injection optimisation, furnace oxygen, flue gas monitoring in FCC catalyst regeneration, trace H2S and H2O in natural gas, H2S measurements in sulphur recovery, and cross-duct CO monitoring for electrostatic precipitator safety.