Chemical Engineering and Industrial Chemistry

Automated pH Adjustment Driven by Robotic Workflows and Active Machine Learning



Buffer solutions have tremendous importance in biological systems and in formulated products. Whilst the pH response upon acid/base addition to a mixture containing a single buffer can be described by the Henderson-Hasselbalch equation, modelling the pH response for multi-buffered poly-protic systems after acid/base addition, a common task in all chemical laboratories and many industrial plants, is a challenge. Combining predictive modelling and experimental pH adjustment, we present an active machine learning (ML)-driven closed-loop optimization strategy for automating small scale batch pH adjustment relevant for complex samples (e.g., formulated products in the chemical industry). Several ML models were compared on a generated dataset of binary-buffered poly-protic systems and it was found that Gaussian processes (GP) served as the best performing models. Moreover, the implementation of transfer learning into the optimization protocol proved to be a successful strategy in making the process even more efficient. Finally, practical usability of the developed algorithm was demonstrated experimentally with a liquid handling robot where the pH of different buffered systems was adjusted, offering a versatile and efficient strategy for a pH adjustment processes.


Thumbnail image of automated_pH-adjustment_CRX20822.pdf