Measuring the World of Liquids – Juicy Details Matter

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Mine, like millions of others, favorite juice is orange juice with pulp and I often enjoy it during breakfast. I like the taste of it, and expect it to taste the same every time.

When we, the consumers, buy groceries, we can check the ingredient list from the bottle of our favorite juice or soda and trust that the product tastes the same on each purchase, no matter when, where or which corner of the world you buy it.

One of the elements affecting product taste and texture and therefore taste consistency is the product’s sugar content. But have you ever wondered, how the manufacturers monitor, control and measure the sugar content in their products? 

When producing food and beverages, measuring the concentration of the liquids is necessary to ensure meeting consumer expectations on familiar taste and even product quality from batch to batch and factory to factory.  

Traditional way to measure sugar content in juices, for example, has been with a hand-held refractometer. Handheld devices are a bit controversial, as they require sampling, an action that creates a risk of actually contaminating the product. In addition, taking samples is slow and requires personnel, and the results handheld refractometers give are not reliable or repeatable as they depend a lot of the interpretation of the operator and his or her experience. Of course, as with all sample taking, they always reflect the process status, such as sugar content, on the moment the sample was taken, and the process status can vary dramatically between samples.

In 2018 Vaisala acquired K-Patents, a company, which was the first one in the world to develop a fully digital in-line refractometer. The invention was revolutionary as now manufacturers could monitor their process in a safe way, continuously and in real-time, and optimize accordingly, saving energy, raw materials and time just to mention few benefits.

Currently, K-Patents provides measuring solutions to over 150 applications in various industries and is the global leader in designing and supplying specialized in-line liquid analyzers and process refractometers for industrial process instrumentation and control.

In food and beverage industry, a common use for a K-Patents refractometer is measuring Brix, an indicator of amount of sugar content, not only of my morning juice, but also in for example ketchups or jams, ensuring consistent product quality and desired sugar content according to recipe.

The process refractometers are used for determining the concentration of dissolved material by making an optical measurement of a solution’s refractive index. The concentration of the liquid is calculated based on the refractive index and temperature.

Industries for Refractive Index (RI) Technology

The refractive index technology itself is suitable to use for measuring, monitoring and controlling the concentration of liquids in many industries. Liquids can be found in sugar & sweeteners, pulp & paper, chemicals, semiconductors, pharmaceutical & biochemical, metal & mining, oil refining & petrochemical, biofuel & bio-refining as well as in fiber & textile industries.

Read more about Vaisala acquiring K-Patents.

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