Three different approaches have been evaluated for monitoring ribbon density through real-time near-infrared spectroscopy measurements. The roll compactor was operated to produce microcrystalline cellulose (MCC) ribbons of varying densities. The first approach used the slope of the spectra which showed a variation through the ribbon that could be attributed to density. A second qualitative approach was also developed with a principal component analysis (PCA) model with spectra taken in-line during the production of ribbons in an ideal roll pressure range. The PCA (i.e., real-time) density scans show that the model was able to qualitatively capture the density responses resulting from variation in process parameters. The third approach involved multivariate partial least squares (PLS) calibration models developed at wavelength regions of 1,120–1,310 and 1,305–2,205 nm. Also, various PLS models were developed using three reference methods: caliper, pycnometer, and in-line laser. The third approach shows a quantitative difference between the model-predicted and the measured densities. Models developed at high-wavelength region showed highest accuracy compared with models at low-wavelength region. All the PLS models showed a high accuracy along the spectra collected throughout the production of the ribbons. The three methods showed applicability to process control monitoring by describing the changes in density during in-line sampling.
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