Energy monitoring and quality control of a single screw extruder

Jing Deng, Kang Li, Eileen Harkin-Jones, Mark Price, Nayeem Karnachi, Adrian Kelly, Javier Vera-Sorroche, Phil Coates, Elaine Brown, Minrui Fei

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


Polymer extrusion, in which a polymer is melted and conveyed to a mould or die, forms the basis of most polymer processing techniques. Extruders frequently run at non-optimised conditions and can account for 15-20% of overall process energy losses. In times of increasing energy efficiency such losses are a major concern for the industry. Product quality, which depends on the homogeneity and stability of the melt flow which in turn depends on melt temperature and screw speed, is also an issue of concern of processors. Gear pumps can be used to improve the stability of the production line, but the cost is usually high. Likewise it is possible to introduce energy meters but they also add to the capital cost of the machine. Advanced control incorporating soft sensing capabilities offers opportunities to this industry to improve both quality and energy efficiency. Due to strong correlations between the critical variables, such as the melt temperature and melt pressure, traditional decentralized PID (Proportional-Integral-Derivative) control is incapable of handling such processes if stricter product specifications are imposed or the material is changed from one batch to another. In this paper, new real-time energy monitoring methods have been introduced without the need to install power meters or develop data-driven models. The effects of process settings on energy efficiency and melt quality are then studied based on developed monitoring methods. Process variables include barrel heating temperature, water cooling temperature, and screw speed. Finally, a fuzzy logic controller is developed for a single screw extruder to achieve high melt quality. The resultant performance of the developed controller has shown it to be a satisfactory alternative to the expensive gear pump. Energy efficiency of the extruder can further be achieved by optimising the temperature settings. Experimental results from open-loop control and fuzzy control on a Killion 25. mm single screw extruder are presented to confirm the efficacy of the proposed approach.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1775-1785
Number of pages11
JournalApplied Energy
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Jan 2014


  • Energy efficiency
  • Fuzzy control
  • Melt quality
  • Polymer extrusion
  • Single screw extruder


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