Radleys intuitive software is revolutionising the lab by allowing complex, multi-device experiments to be automated and run unattended

Running an experiment using multiple devices with several parameters to control needn’t be a laborious process. Automation software can help save time and money while improving accuracy and reproducibility. Here two chemists reveal how Radleys AVA lab control software helps them overcome challenges they face.

Lubrizol uses AVA to control exotherms

W5 RA281121 Lubrizol AVA article - montage

Source: © Lubrizol

Lubrizol has noticed the benefits of data logging and overnight automation using AVA software

Emma Playfoot, a research scientist at specialty chemicals company Lubrizol, explains how AVA control software makes a difference. ‘We struggled to monitor our exotherms before we opted for AVA control software. We were using standard thermocouples in our reaction vessels and the only way we knew if any exotherms had taken place was to physically watch for a temperature rise,’ she says.

With AVA, we can track the reaction temperature profile over time – easily tracking both known and unknown exotherms

Emma Playfoot, Lubrizol

‘We didn’t know if exotherms had occurred and, if they had, on what scale. Now we use AVA, we can track the reaction temperature profile over time so we can easily track both the known and unknown exotherms,’ says Playfoot.

‘I really like the graphs the software produces, especially the reaction temperature profile over time. They are a massive benefit when speaking to manufacturers about reaction profiles, as we can give them this data straight from the software. It is useful for explaining the different steps of the reactions, any exotherms that may occur at specific times and also the scale of the exotherms. As we work on different scales, it is also really useful to compare the same style of graphs between the different scales,’ says Playfoot.

A reaction that could take up to a week can now be completed in a 24-hour period

Emma Playfoot, Lubrizol

The main benefit Lubrizol has experienced since using AVA is the freedom it allows its chemists to work on other things while experiments are running. AVA can be used to create a program which automatically increases and decreases the temperature of a circulator as necessary. That is advantageous when the reaction is too long for a standard working day, or there are scheduled meetings which would otherwise have interrupted the reaction process.

Time and money saved, with fewer errors too

‘We can now continue to run reactions overnight, rather than stopping and restarting the following day, which would mean deviating from any potential manufacturing processes. A reaction that could take up to a week can now be completed in a 24-hour period. Our reproducibility has also increased massively since using AVA software, which has saved us time and money,’ Playfoot adds. 

AVA software has definitely been a massive positive in our lab

Emma Playfoot, Lubrizol

Lubrizol started using the Gravimetric Additions Module through AVA software and found it provided significantly better control over the addition of its monomers. ‘This saved us a lot of time because the pumps were already set up and required no calibration. Having more control over the dosing of our monomers avoids incorrect amounts of reagents being added, which means fewer faulty samples.’

‘At first, I was sceptical about using the automation reaction programming in AVA and I was worried it wouldn’t follow the program I had set out, or that it would be complicated to build up a program. However, after trialling it during the day when I could monitor its progress and play around with all the features, my confidence in it increased and we have not looked back since,’ says Playfoot.

‘AVA software has definitely been a massive positive in our lab. Once it was all set up and running – we currently use it on three different Reactor-Ready set-ups – there were very few issues. Training colleagues to use AVA has proven quick and easy. When they see the benefits the software has to offer they are fully onboard. I’m encouraging my colleagues to use AVA,’ adds Playfoot.


Source: © Graphenea 

Graphenea has seen improvements and reproducibility and safety 

Optimised graphene production thanks to AVA control software 

Beatriz Alonso, a research scientist at graphene producer Graphenea, explains how AVA control software has proven a worthwhile addition to the lab. ‘Before using AVA, we produced graphene oxide manually using standard labware. This made sense when we worked with amounts up to 10g but once we scaled up the process it was clear we needed more control and automation. So, we set out to look for a lab pilot reactor with automation solutions. Radleys’ system differs from others as AVA is designed to be used with the reactors and the rest of the equipment,’ says Alonso.

When batch to batch reproducibility is needed, automating the chemistry is crucial

Beatriz Alonso, Graphenea

‘In a chemical reaction, many parameters impact the final product – the raw materials, temperature, reaction time, addition time and the order in which chemicals are added. With AVA software, all these parameters can be controlled with a single program in a simple way. When batch to batch reproducibility is needed, automating the chemistry is crucial,’ says Alonso.

‘Our experiments are more reproducible now. All the data of each reaction is saved, so if we observe something different in the quality of one batch we can always go through the data and check if the parameters were correct. In general, if a process is controlled automatically you avoid all the differences in results and problems that originate from human error,’ she adds. 

AVA is intuitive and easy to use – you don’t need to be a chemical engineer to use it effectively

Beatriz Alonso, Graphenea

All the equipment involved in the reaction is connected to the computer. In Graphenea’s case, this includes a balance, mechanical stirrer, thermoregulator and peristaltic pump. After creating a recipe, making small changes to improve the reaction is easy.

‘Because AVA is intuitive and easy to use, you don’t need to be a chemical engineer to use it effectively. The safety features are another added benefit. For example, you can program the system to make it temporarily stop adding a reagent, or even end the reaction if the temperature of the reaction reaches a certain value. Additions can be controlled using time as the main parameter, or by making sure that the process temperature doesn’t reach a certain value, which is very important in our process,’ Alonso adds.

AVA’s key benefits: a summary

Radleys’ product manager Ravi Hosein has rounded up the benefits AVA provides chemists working in process chemistry, API manufacture, large scale organic synthesis and more. 

‘It can be time-consuming and mentally taxing for a single person to manually manage a reaction system with multiple devices connected. AVA can overcome many of the challenges this presents,’ says Hosein.

Ravi at Radleys

Source: © Radleys

Ravi Hosein, AVA software product manager

Improve reproducibility by automatically logging process data 

Simplify reporting – the report wizard creates detailed reports in rich text and CSV formats

Improve accuracy, by minimising the risk of manual errors  

Save time by running experiments for longer periods and even overnight, safely unattended

Make experiments safer by automatically controlling exotherms

Radleys encourages anyone considering lab control software to give AVA a try by downloading the free demo software. To book your free online or face-to-face demonstration and find out what else AVA control software can do visit Radleys website