Happy Holidays from All of Us at Electron Machine

From all of us at Electron Machine Corporation, we wish our customers, partners and vendors a safe and happy holiday season and a wonderful 2019!


MDS Black Liquor Solids Monitoring System Training by Electron Machine Corporation


Electron Machine Corporation offers free MDS training at our facility in Umatilla, Florida. The MDS Monitor Divert System is a BLRBAC compliant Black Liquor solids monitoring system designed specifically for Black Liquor recovery boilers. Classes cover theory, operation, maintenance, troubleshooting and correct usage of the isolation valve. Training is comprehensive, friendly, personalized and provides the hands-on know-how necessary to operate the MDS.

For more information contact Electron Machine Corporation at 352-669-3101 or visit https://electronmachine.com.

The Inline Refractometer's Role in Juice Concentration

Orange juice
Fruit juice concentrate provides producers easier transport of product and longer storage life. Fruit juice concentrate production starts with a dilute feed stock juice and processes it into a uniform and consistent concentrated form through the removal of water. Water is removed through an evaporative process that involves specialized equipment designed uniquely for the concentration process. Almost every commercially harvested fruit can be juiced and concentrated.

Fruit juice extraction is unique to the shape, size, and nature of the fruit, but once the juice is extracted it is purified and stored in primary holding tanks prior to being delivered to an evaporator. Upon entering the evaporator, the juice concentration varies depending on a number of natural factors. The goal of the concentration process is to remove this variability and output a uniform and consistent juice concentrate.  Throughout the fruit juice concentration process, solid components of the original juice remain and can be quantified as a percent of juice volume.

inline process refractometer
Inline process refractometer.
Refractometers are instruments that measure the refractive index, which very simply put, indicates how much a light beam is "bent" as the light passes through the fruit juice.  The light bending is proportional to the solids concentrate. Sugars are the major soluble solids in fruit juice, along with other soluble materials including organic and amino acids, soluble pectins, etc.

In larger scale juice production facilities, soluble solids concentration (SSC%, degrees Brix) are determined by using in-line process refractometers at strategic points in the process to measure solids concentration, as well as to evaluate equipment performance and product quality. Output signals from the refractometers serve as inputs to the command and control system for the evaporators, allowing feed rate to closely match evaporation rate and make most efficient use of the energy consuming equipment.

For more information about inline process refractometers role in fruit and vegetable juice production, contact Electron Machine Corporation by calling 352-669-3101 of visit their web site at https://electronmachine.com.

Electron Machine Named Small Manufacturer of the Year by MACF

MACF Small Manufacturer of the 2018
The Manufacturers Association of Central Florida (MACF) is a non-profit organization dedicated to building the manufacturing industry in Central Florida. They provide a venue and pathway for networking, education, sales opportunities and lobbying for Central Florida business. For 26 years the organization has elevated Florida manufacturing companies through educational training, workshops, grant opportunities, supply chain assistance, and working with local and state legislators.

MACF Small Manufacturer of the 2018Electron Machine Corporation was named the MACF 2018 Small Manufacturer of the Year. The award was presented at the 2018 MACF Annual President's Dinner & Awards of Excellence and received by Electron Machine President C.A. Vossberg.

The award is in recognition of Electron Machine's success as a Central Florida manufacturing company that consistently exhibits growth through outstanding quality, teamwork, leadership and a strong sense of community.

Black Liquor Solids Measurement Demo with Electron Machine DSA E-Scan Bench-top Refractometer


This video demonstrates how the DSA E-Scan automatic, bench-top critical angle refractometer is used to measure dissolved solids in black liquor.

The DSA E-Scan is an automatic, bench-top critical angle refractometer with a digital readout and temperature-controlled sample chamber. The instrument is equipped with a menu-driven user interface and is factory calibrated and temperature compensated. 

For more information contact Electron Machine by visiting https://electronmachine.com or call 352-669-3101.

Electron Machine Attends 2018 Fall BLRBAC Meeting

Electron Machine
C.A. Vossberg and Jack Wilburn of Electron Machine exhibiting at
BLRBAC 2018 Fall Meeting

The BLRBAC Fall Meeting was held in in Atlanta this past October and Electron Machine was pleased to attend and exhibit.

The BLRBAC is a  trade association that exists for the purpose of sharing knowledge, drafting guidelines, and maintaining those guidelines to help facilitate the safe and reliable operation of Black Liquor Recovery Boilers.

The sodium sulfate or kraft pulping process is used to produce pulp for the production of paper.  Black Liquor Recovery Boilers reclaim the spent combustible pulping chemicals in black liquor and create steam. If not for the advent of the black liquor recovery boiler (BLRB), this pulping process would not be economically viable.

BLRBAC’s objective is to promote improved safety of chemical recovery boilers and their auxiliaries through the interchange of technical knowledge, experience, and data on past and any future recovery boiler incidents.

Electron Machine has been an active member of the BLRBAC for over five decades and supports the very valuable work the BLRBAC does to improve safety, operation and efficiency of chemical recovery boilers.


The Preferred Inline Process Refractometer When Safety and Quality Are on the Line


Electron Machine inline process refractometers provide safe, reliable, and accurate process measurement for thousands of customers in the pulp and paper industry, food and beverage industry, and chemical industries. Known for their ruggedly designed instruments, Electron Machine refractometers provide accurate and repeatable measurement of Refractive Index, Dissolved Solids, and Degrees Brix. They also distinguish themselves from competitors by providing fast response to customers needs after the sale. For applications where accuracy and reliability are critical to safety and quality, there really is only once choice - Electron Machine.

Inline Process Refractometer Application Engineering Data: Heavy Black Liquor

Heavy Black Liquor RI vs. Concentration

Refractometers are used in the recovery boiler area to measure heavy black liquor solids in the range of 50-80%. When used to monitor liquor solids to the spray nozzles they become so critical that the recovery boiler will not be operated without them.

As quoted from the Black Liquor Recovery Boiler Advisory Committee, “Refractometers have proven to be effective for black liquor recovery boiler service.” Refractometers are a critical component of the black liquor safe firing system.

Monitoring the recovery boiler firing liquor concentration requires two refractometers in a redundant and specially supervised system. A “Monitor Divert System” employs supervisory circuitry to oversee the correct operation of the refractometer and perform certain logic functions if it detects a failure. The most important of these is the automatic
diversion of the liquor from the furnace into a recirculation loop until the problems can be resolved.

Refractometers used elsewhere in this area include measuring the concentration of the heavy black liquor from storage as it enters the recovery area. They are also used extensively around the cascade or cyclone evaporators to monitor the performance of the direct contact evaporation system. When refractometers are used in the recovery area, the process can be tuned to operate efficiently and most importantly, more safely.

Inline process refractometer on black liquor service
Inline process refractometer on black liquor service.

Throwback Thursday - 1972 "Instrumentation Study - Black Liquor Solids Content" by the The Institute of Paper Chemistry

For all you Pulp & Paper historians out there, here's an "oldie but goodie" from the Electron Machine archives.

In 1972 The Institute of Paper Chemistry wrote a paper titled "Instrumentation Study - Black Liquor Solids Content" detailing a comparison between an Electron Machine Corporation refractometer and an NUS Corporation sonic velocimeter and their respective capability of measuring black liquor solids. Below is the document to view online, or you can download your own copy here.

8 Reasons to Partner with Electron Machine Corporation

  1. Our History - We designed & patented the 1st process refractometer in 1957.
  2. Our Quality - We maintain the highest certification levels and standards.
  3. We Solve Problems - Innovative designs that perform far beyond expectations.
  4. Our Experience - 60+ years successfully applying process refractometers.
  5. Our People - Professional, knowledgeable, courteous, enthusiastic.
  6. Our Leadership - Committed, strategic and transformational.
  7. We're Community Involved - Supporting local colleges, businesses and organizations.
  8. We're Environmentally Friendly - Doing our part with renewables for a greener tomorrow.

What Is An Inline Process Refractometer?

Inline sensing head
Inline sensing head
Inline process refractometers are used in the food processing, beverage, pulp and paper processing, chemical, power, and primary metal industries. Inline process refractometers save labor costs, streamline the manufacturing process, and improve quality by detecting inconsistencies in a product early in the production phase. They continuously monitor, control and report the on Degrees Brix, Percent Solids, Dissolved Solids, SGU, and refractive index of a brand variety of solutions.

Inline process refractometers are made up of three main components:
Control console
Control console
  1. The inline sensing head, which is inserted to a pipe and is exposed the the product for direct measurement. The sensor is connected by a cable to the second main component, the control console.
  2. The control console, which houses the display, electronics, power supply and output connections. Both the sensor and the control module are designed for high accuracy and precise control. Their housing and cabling are often specialized for use in varying extreme conditions and very demanding environments.
  3. The process adapter, which connects the sensor mechanically to the process piping. Adapters are configured for the pipe size and application they are used on and are available in many configurations. Some of the more common adapter options are:
    • Lined - For extremely corrosive applications.
      Mounting adapters
      Mounting adapters
    • Inline - For most applications with pipeline sizes less than 2”.
    • Isolation - For critical process lines that cannot normally be shut down.
    • Sanitary - For applications on a sanitary pipeline.
    • Spool - For most applications with pipeline sizes greater than 2”.
    • Vessel - For applications where the sensing head is to be mounted directly onto a vessel or vacuum pan.
    • Weld-in - For economical mounting.

The Three Major Causes of Refractometer Trouble in Black Liquor Recovery Boilers

Pulp and paper mill
Pulp and paper mill.
The three major causes of refractometer trouble or failure in black liquor recovery boilers are:
  1. Loss of cooling water and its effect on the sensing head.
  2. Lack of reliability of the prism wash.
  3. Condensation in the sensing head.
These may not apply to all refractometers due to differences in construction and circuitry.

Cooling Water Loss

It is of vital importance that the loss of cooling water be detected. This may be done through a temperature sensing element or flow monitor which shuts down the refractometer involved.

Damage to the sensing element of a refractometer does not occur instantaneously, but it is essential that the system detect abnormal temperatures due to cooling water loss, flow blockage, etc., and that the cooling water be promptly restored.

The individual refractometer manufacturer’s instruction and maintenance manuals shall be consulted with reference to: potential damage to the sensing element; identification of a damaged element; how and when to replace a damaged element.

Prism Wash

The time interval between prism washes may vary with the black liquor composition. It is recommended that the minimum wash period be 7-10 seconds of wash every 20 minutes. Short duration washes at more frequent intervals are more effective than long washes at long intervals. Ideally, steam pressure for prism washing should be 35 psig above the black liquor pressure, plus the pressure required to open the protective check valve.

Awareness must be maintained of the effect of changes to the prism wash programming variables. Various refractometer systems have the capability to adjust: condensate drain time, steam on time, recovery time and interval between wash time. It may be possible to configure the system to have the total time that both refractometers are in their wash cycle represent a significant percentage of operating time. If one refractometer is out of service for repairs and the remaining refractometer is in prism wash, black liquor solids are not being monitored. Prism wash should be minimized to that needed to maintain the system.

If high pressure steam is used, it may abrade the prism. If only high pressure steam is available, a reducing valve shall be used.

The refractometer prism must have a clear polished optical surface, and if it becomes abraded, it must be replaced.

If the prism wash system has not operated properly and the prism becomes coated, it must be removed and properly cleaned.

Condensation in Sensing Head

Condensate may build up in the refractometer sensing head and if this occurs, the instrument operation will be erratic.

The procedure for determining this condition and for the elimination of excessive moisture in the sensing head is not the same for all refractometers. The manufacturer’s instruction and maintenance manuals shall be consulted and followed carefully.

Reprinted from "Recommended Good Practice: Safe Firing of Black Liquor in Black Liquor Recovery Boilers" courtesy of the Black Liquor Recovery Boiler Advisory Committee.

Image by AlexiusHoratius [CC BY-SA 3.0  (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

Electron Machine Corporation's C.A. Vossberg Receives Distinguished Partner Manufacturing Service Award

2018 FLATE Award Winners
2018 FLATE Award Winners
The Florida Advanced Technological Education Center (FLATE) and the Florida Association for Career and Technical Education (FACTE) awarded Electron Machine's President, C.A. Vossberg, their 2018 Distinguished Partner Manufacturing Service Award.

The Awards represent FLATE’s efforts to
recognize leaders who have been at the forefront of manufacturing workforce education and training.

This is the eleventh year of our FLATE Awards program and is one of FLATE’s many efforts to showcase and recognize the contributions of educators and industries in advancing technician education and training on a regional and statewide level.

Distinguished Partner Manufacturing Service Award
C.A. Vossberg (middle)
Electron Machine, headquartered in Umatilla, Florida, is a premier manufacturer of industrial
refractometers and process control equipment.

For more information, contact Electron Machine by visiting https://electronmachine.com or by calling 352-669-3101.

The Basics of Process Refractometers

Light refractionA refractometer is a process instrument capable of determining a solution's refractive index. Light bends and changes velocity as it travels from one media into another through the media interface. When light traveling through air enters liquid, the light rays change direction by an amount determined by the liquid's density.

Angle of refraction refers to the magnitude the light bends as it exits one media and enters the interface of another. With the angle of refraction defined by their densities, different liquids display different amounts of refraction - for example, a higher density juice such as orange juice will have significantly different refraction than cranberry juice, because of its higher density.

Light refraction
Light bends when traveling through
different media. That's why this pencil
appears to be "broken" when it enters
the water.
A liquid's refractive index relates to the amount of light bending that liquid displays. The greater the bending, the greater the refractive index. The lower the bending, the lower the refractive index.

Standard tables are available that correlate refractive index to a variety of materials. These same tables also correlate refractive index to varying concentrations of particular liquid media at a particular temperature. Take corn syrup for example. Different refractive indexes are observed for different corn syrup samples of different concentrations. Therefore, by using a process refractometer to observe the refractive index of a particular corn syrup sample, a determination of the concentration of that particular sample can be made. By referring to the table or scale that correlates the refractive index to concentration at a particular fixed temperature, liquid concentration can be determined.

The refraction index of the liquid medium readings will vary at different temperatures, and therefore, the sample's temperature must be measured and compensated for in order for refractive index readings to be accurate and repeatable.

Refractive index measurements have been used for process control in the food, juice and beverage industries for decades, with the most common applications being the measurement of sugars (Brix) and total dissolved solids (TDS). Large scale production and processing of fruit juices, jams, tomato products, wine, beer, coffee, and many other products rely on industrial refractometers for quality and consistency.

For more information contact Electron Machine Corporation by visiting https://electronmachine.com or by calling 352-669-3101.

Happy 4th of July from Electron Machine Corporation

"Freedom is one of the deepest and noblest aspirations of the human spirit."

Ronald Reagan


What Are Critical Angle Refractometers?

Critical angle refractometersCritical angle refractometers use the principle of critical angle refractometry by which dissolved solids content is related to the refractive index of the solution. The basic refractometer unit unit consists of a sensing head and control console. The sensing head is mounted on the adapter installed in the process line and the process solution is usually viewed through a transparent window. The surface of the solution, which is in contact with the window, is optically scanned by an octagonal prism.

The refractive index is determined by a beam of light from the prism which repeatedly sweeps at a varying angle at the surface of the solution. At a point in the cycle, as the angle between the incident light beam and the surface decreases, the light beam instead of refracting into the solution is reflected back into the optical system. The point of change from refraction to reflection depends on the refractive index of the solution and is known as the critical angle. The prism scans the beam of light through the critical angle. A photodetector measures the alternating light and dark periods and its electrical output is used to provide a readout of refractive index in the required units (R. I., % concentration, degrees Brix., etc.).

Critical angle refractometers
Optical Path
Diagram - How They Work

Critical angle refractometers use an LED as a light source and utilizes state of the art CCD (charge coupled device) technology to accomplish scanning the reflected light returned from the prism.

Light radiated from the LED passes through the prism surface to be reflected off mirror 1 to the prism-to-process interface. The light reaching this interface intersects the same interface over a series of angles chosen to include critical angle for the process being measured. Light intersecting the interface at an angle greater than critical angle is refracted into the solution. Light intersecting the interface at less than critical angle is reflected up to mirror 2 and out of the prism up to the CCD linear array to be scanned.

A principal advantage of critical angle refractometry is that it measures the index of refraction at the surface of the process solution. Since the light beam does not penetrate into the solution, the instrument can be used for opaque as well as transparent materials.

Measuring Solids in Pulp & Paper Black Liquor

Pulp and paper plant
Pulp and paper plant.
Industrial paper manufacture involves a procedure known as the Kraft process, where wood is converted into wood pulp and then into paper. The process, however, produces a toxic byproduct referred to as black liquor. This primarily liquid mixture of pulping residues (such as lignin and hemicellulose) and inorganic chemicals from the Kraft process (such as sodium hydroxide and sodium sulfide) is toxic.

Until the invention of recovery boilers in the early 20th century, black liquor was often simply released into waterways. Black liquor recovery boilers allowed paper manufacturers to recover and reuse the inorganic chemicals and extract energy from the pulping residues.

Paper processingReliable, continuous measurement of black liquor solids content is a subject of considerable importance to the pulp industry. The solids content of liquor introduced into a recovery furnace can have a pronounced influence on firing behavior. Current trends toward better control of the recovery furnace for reasons of safety and reduced air emissions require a greater degree of control over incoming solids content and appropriate adjustment of operating conditions to handle variations in solids content. This, in turn, requires a reliable method for continuously monitoring solids content.

Instruments such as inline process refractometers successfully measuring black liquor solids concentration continuously. These instruments have the dependability, accuracy, and reliability to augment safe operation of recovery boilers. Refractive index-type instruments are more widely accepted and far more successful with less maintenance requirements than other types of instruments used for black liquor solids measurement, and have proven reliable and accurate for automatic monitoring of black liquor solids concentration.

Inline Process Refractometers for Fruit Juice Concentrate Production

Fruit Juice Concentrate
Just about every fruit harvested is processed to a concentrate. Fruit juice concentrate provides for easier transportation and longer storage life for both producers and consumers. Production technology for the juice concentration has become quite advanced, resulting in improved quality and consistency. Sweetness, color and solid components from the feedstock fruit juice carefully monitored and controlled.

Fruit juice concentrate production starts with dilute juice feedstock, the application of carefully controlled heat to evaporate off water, ultimately resulting in a uniform and consistent concentrated juice. The fruit juice stock is extracted from various fruits in a number of ways that are specifically adapted for the shape, size, and nature of the fruit. It is then purified and stored in primary holding tanks. Juice concentration will vary at this initial stage due to a number of natural factors and needs to be processed to desired quality standards.

One objective of the concentration process is to remove excess water in a consistent and uniform manner. Excess water removal is done through the use of specialized multi-stage evaporators that extract water without damaging the juice by applying improper amounts of heat. A closed-loop control system monitors a variety of process variables such as temperature, flow, and pressure from multiple process sensors. The readings from these sensors drive proportional outputs that modulate final control elements such as control valves.

Process refractometers are sensors used at strategic points to measure dissolved solids (sugar) concentration.  By monitoring and controlling percent solids and Brix, plant operators gain tighter control of product quality and more efficient use of equipment (possible energy savings).

For more information on the application of process refractometers in juice and juice concentrate, contact Electron Machine Corporation by visiting https://electronmachine.com or calling 352-669-3101.

Electron Machine Corporation Highlighted for Renewable Energy Investment

From the original article titled "Electron Machine Makes Big Investment In Umatilla Future" and reprinted with permission from The North Lake Outpost, Vol. 40, No 4.

With one eye cast to preserving its deep roots in Umatilla, and another to an efficient, competitive future, the Electron Machine Corporation recently embarked on a major upgrade of its facility. The firm, with decades of history in Umatilla manufacturing and distributing products that provide process measurement for the pulp and paper industry, the food and beverage industry, and the chemical industry, recently faced a crossroads.

Solar panel installation
Solar panel installation.

“We are a small firm. We have to be more nimble. We have to think differently to compete in the industries we’re serving,” said C.A. Vossberg, third generation of the Vossberg family who today oversees the firm’s operations.

Electron Machine HQ
Electron Machine HQ
Facing the need to undertake major upgrades on the company’s aging 25,000 square foot building, a large portion of which isn’t fully utilized, there was discussion about where the future should be.

“We don’t have to have a brand new building, but we need reliability,” Vossberg said, reporting of roofing issues that were hampering operations.

“We said, ‘What is best for the long term?”

 Solar panel installation
Solar panel installation.
Eventually, the decision was made to fix the roof, and more. After nine months, during which countless delays brought about by Hurricane Irma made things even worse, the firm is closing in on completion of a project that features a large solar panel farm that is set to generate enough solar power to run the building.

Vossberg said the idea for solar power at the plant isn’t a new one, given the building’s large, flat roof. But technology has improved to the point to make the project more viable.
“The project is sized so that our net energy consumption over the year will be next to zero,” Vossberg said, a big positive when looking to the financial bottom line of operating at its current location.

There is a big cost to installing such a large solar system. However, Electron Machine has applied for a grant through the USDA to help offset the cost.

“They have a rural America program that encourages employees to remain there, and not move into the city,” Vossberg said. “That’s exactly what we are trying to do.”

Solar powered roof
Bird's-eye view of Electron Machine's solar charged roof.
Vossberg has been a proponent of rural job creation, supporting Lake Tech’s new manufacturing training facility in Eustis which is designed to increase employability in the manufacturing field, and can be found attending City of Umatilla functions regarding the Umatilla Municipal Airport. Electron Machine is among the users of the airport, and Vossberg has said it’s existence is an important cog in the wheel that allows his business to continue to function here.

“Being here, it’s who we are,” Vossberg said.

Video: Applying Refractometers to the On-line Measurement of Green Liquor Density

A presentation to the Western Canada Black Liquor Recovery Boiler Advisory Committee (BLRBAC) by Electron Machine Corporation. The presentation slides were made in to this video for viewing on YouTube.

What is the BLRBAC?

The BLRBAC stands for Black Liquor Recovery Boiler Advisory Committee. It was formed in 1961 as a non-profit trade association dedicated to improved safety of chemical recovery boilers, and their auxiliaries, through the interchange of technical knowledge, experience, and data on past and any future recovery boiler incidents.

It's formation stemmed from an alarming number of explosions, injuries, and deaths involving Black Liquor Recovery Boilers. Industry professionals from insurance companies, paper companies, and boiler companies agreed to create the BLRBAC for the purpose of generating safety procedures and guidelines that govern the operation of Black Liquor Recovery Boilers.

The BLRBAC has a number of active sub-committees that are constantly reviewing and updating their safety guidelines to reflect current technology and knowledge.

The Black Liquor Recovery Boiler Advisory Committee meets twice a year in Atlanta GA, usually the first week in April and October.

For more information about the BLRBAC, visit http://www.blrbac.org.

Important Process Instrumentation Terminology

process control instruments
In describing the characteristics and operation of process control instruments (such as process refractometers), it is very important to understand some common terms used in the industry. The definitions of some of the more common terms are provided below:

Accuracy: The closeness of an indicator or reading of a measurement device to the actual value of the quantity being measured; usually expressed as ± percent of the full scale output or reading.

Drift: The change in output or set point value over long periods of time due to such factors as temperature, voltage, and time.

Hysteresis: The difference in output after a full cycle in which the input value approaches the reference point (conditions) with increasing, then decreasing values or vice versa; it is measured by decreasing the input to one extreme (minimum or maximum value), then to the other extreme, then returning the input to the reference (starting) value.

Linearity: How closely the output of a sensor approximates a straight line when the applied input is linear.

Noise: An unwanted electrical interference on signal wires.

Nonlinearity: The difference between the actual deflection curve of a unit and a straight line drawn between the upper and lower range terminal values of the deflection, expressed as a percentage of full range deflection.

Precision: The degree of agreement between a number of independent observations of the same physical quantity obtained under the same conditions.

Repeatability: The ability of a sensor to reproduce output readings when the same input value is applied to it consecutively under the same conditions.

Resolution: The smallest detectable increment of measurement.

Sensitivity: The minimum change in input signal to which an instrument can respond.

Stability: The ability of an instrument to provide consistent output over an extended
period during which a constant input is applied.

Zero balance: The ability of the transducer to output a value of zero at the electronic null
point.

Process Refractometers Built to Handle the Toughest Conditions

Users agree. Electron Machine builds the most rugged process refractometer available for the pulp and paper,  food and beverage, and chemical industries.

https://electronmachine.com
352-669-3101

Process Refractometers for Food and Pharmaceutical Processing

Process Refractometer
Process refractometers provide the analysis to quickly, reliably, and very accurately identify a sample and determine it's concentration and purity levels. They measure the refractive index and temperature of flowing liquids, and apply mathematical functions to determine the concentration of dissolved solids.

Process refractometers are particularly useful in the food and pharmaceutical industries where they are used to optimize production processes, control quality, and ensure consistency and purity.

In commercial food applications such as juice production or tomato processing, refractometers are used to measure degrees Brix. The Brix scale relates refractive index to sugar concentration, and is a key way to maintain consistency. For example, process refractometers are used for the concentration process of fruit juices. The concentration process is normally achieved by removing water through evaporation, and by measuring Brix, the evaporation process can be controlled and related to the desired juice concentration.

In the pharmaceutical industry, process refractometers are used to monitor and control concentration levels during supersaturation, a critical process in crystallization.  Crystallization is key to the purification of solids in pharmaceutical production.  A high degree of measurement accuracy and reliability provided by the process refractometer ensures precise monitoring and control and a pure product.

There are many other industrial applications for process refractometers, almost all sharing the need for accurate solids content measurement.

For more information about process refractometers, contact Electron Machine. Visit them at https://electronmachine.com or call 352-669-3101.

Refractometers for Industry

Industrial process refractometers provide safe, reliable, and accurate process measurement for the pulp and paper industry, the food and beverage industry, and the chemical industry. Electron Machine manufactures the world's most rugged refractometers and has thousands of refractometers controlling processes, improving quality, and saving cost in these industries around the world.


In-Line Process Refractometers

In-line Process refractometer
In-line Process refractometer sensor in spool-piece.
In-line Process refractometers are used to continuously monitor the concentrations of liquids used in pulp and paper processing, food processing, the beverage industry, chemical processing, the power industry, and primary metal processing. They monitor, report, and control process variables such as Degrees Brix, Percent Solids, Dissolved Solids, SGU, R.I. and deliver an output to external devices such as controllers, recorders, indicators, and PLC's.

In-line Process refractometers save labor costs, streamline the manufacturing process, and improve quality by detecting inconsistencies in a product early in the production phase.

Process refractometer sensor
Process refractometer sensor.
Process refractometers typically consist of two main components – the sensor, which is inserted to a pipe and is exposed the the product for direct measurement. The sensor is connected by a cable to the second main component, the control module which houses the display, electronics, power supply and output connections. Both the sensor and the control module are designed for high accuracy and precise control. Their housing and cabling are often specialized for use in varying extreme conditions and very demanding environments.

The control module includes programming for a wide variety of commonly required features, capabilities, and options that can be adapted to a customer’s requirements. This microprocessor control also allows for custom programming for specialized needs.
Process refractometer control module
Process refractometer
control module.

The sensor can be supplied with a multitude of mounting and cleaning options. Cleaning options include hand cleaning systems, high pressure cleaning systems, and steam cleaning systems. Mounting adapter options include lined adapters, spool-piece adapters, sanitary connection adapters, and weld-in adapters.

Not to be confused with their distant relatives - the handheld digital or analog laboratory refractometer - today's rugged, industrial in-line process refractometers provides continuous process management for large-scale facilities giving them the ability to increase product yield, maintain consistency, and eliminate waste.

Have Your Old Electron Machine Refractometer Isolation Valve Rebuilt to "Like New"

Send you old Isolation Valve back to Electron Machine to be restored to like new condition!

The Electron Machine Isolation Valve is a valve designed to isolate the sensing head from the process media for safe removal. There are many in service all over the world. Electron Machine recommends that these valves be repaired/refurbished at least once every ten (10) years.

Contact Electron Machine by calling 352-669-3101 or by visiting https://electronmachine.com to set up your return.

To view a longer, more detailed video of the rebuilding process, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ZmHmYxj3Lo

Repairing (Refurbishing) an Electron Machine Isolation Valve

Electron Machine Isolation Valve
EMC Isolation Valve
The Electron Machine Isolation Valve is a custom-manufactured valve designed to force a cup over the sensing head, isolating it from the process media for safe removal. A proximity sensor allows the position of the handle to be monitored to ensure that the sensing head is providing an accurate reading of the process. Originally designed in the 1970s, the Isolation Valve has proven itself in harsh environments and many are installed in tough processes all over the world. Electron Machine recommends that these valves be repaired/refurbished at least once every ten (10) years. The following 8 minute video is a detailed demonstration of all the steps Electron Machine goes through to give new life to an old isolation valve.


https://electronmachine.com
352-669-3101

Measuring Brix

Brix measures sugar content
Degrees Brix is the unit used to determine
sugar content in a solution.
Degrees Brix is a measurement unit to determine sugar content, typically in the food and beverage industry using a refractometer. Brix measurements allow precise quality control for sugar levels in different beverages, with one degree Brix equating to 1 gram of sucrose in 100 grams of solution. While sucrose is the primary element measured by the Brix reading, it is important to understand how other ingredients affect the Brix reading. The Brix reading can relatively calculate the amount of sweetener in a certain product in addition to exactly calculating the previously mentioned sucrose level.

Sucrose and other sweeteners allow for members of the food and beverage industry to create unique recipes for their products. However, a sucrose solution dissolved in water will return different Brix values than a soda because other elements in the process impact the Brix reading. To account for these shifting variables, a Brix value can be measured through either density or refractive index. Specific control parameters need to be established prior to measuring these solutions with refractometers, thus causing the term “Refractive Brix” to be used when comparing samples against results obtained via different calculation methods. Along with the numerical sugar concentration of a particular product, a product’s sugar concentration correlates to the product’s sweetness, giving controllers the ability to ensure repeatability in their process.

Process refractometers monitor and control
the quality of products containing sugar by
measuring Brix. 
Alongside Brix’s main functionality as an indicator of sucrose, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) has become popular in the food and beverage industry as a replacement for sucrose. Recently, the amount of HFCS in a certain product has also been expressed as Brix, allowing for the Brix degree measurement to expand past its original purpose. Digital refractometers have become increasingly popular in measuring Brix degrees and also the percentage of HFCS in a certain product. These dual measurement possibilities allow operators to compare the content of a certain substance across multiple variables of sweetness. Additionally, the availability of these measurements in a certain process via the same measurement device allows for simplification of the measurement process. Hydrometers are another method used to measure Brix, although, as opposed to refractometers, variations in operator control may cause the results of a hydrometer test to be different. Both Brix and HFCS allow for food and beverage controllers to maintain cost and quality control, both in determining how much sucrose should be used in the process and to ensure each individual product meets quality standards.

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Black Liquor Recovery Boilers

Recovery Boiler
Recovery Boiler (courtesy of Wikipedia)
Article courtesy of Electron Machine Corporation

“Black liquor” is a term used for the waste products that result from the pulping process. The black liquor recovery boiler (BLRB) allows for the chemicals in the waste products to be reclaimed via combustion. These reclaimed chemicals are then utilized to both meet steam demands in the process and to generate electricity.

Modern day BLRBs are designed similarly to industrial boilers, typically as two drum designs, for operating pressure under 900 psi, or single drum designs, for operating pressure over 900 psi. The combustion gases utilized by the boilers can be sticky, so the BLRB furnaces are taller than their utility or industrial watertube counterparts. The amount of pulp producible by a particular mill directly correlates to the size of the BLRB. Small BLRBs process about 750,000 pounds of dry solids per day, and larger BLRBs process about six million pounds of dry solids per day. Precise attention and vigilant maintenance are required in order to maximize investment return for each particular boiler.

Black Liquor
Black Liquor
In order to ensure stabilization of combustion, BLRBs are equipped with auxiliary burners which raise boiler temperature for the combustion process. The firing of the black liquor will eventually become self-sufficient. Combusting the black liquor allows for sulfur compounds used in the pulping process to be reduced to sulfide while inorganic chemicals essential to the process are melted down for reuse. The furnace vaporizes the black liquor as the liquor is sprayed into the furnace. Extra water is vaporized, and some of the combustion takes place as the black liquor falls to the furnace’s floor. The resulting molten smelt flows through spouts, which are operantly cooled via water, to a smelt dissolving tank.

A particular risk of the BLRB process stems from the relationship between molten smelt and water. The pool of molten smelt that accumulates as a result of the reclamation process needs to be kept separate from water, because water and molten material mixing at high temperatures can result in a smelt-water explosion. These explosions can occur when black liquor water content is greater than 42% of the mixture. Additionally, there are numerous ways water can enter the process – as condensation from the soot blower, a faulty steam coil heater, wash hoses – so controller vigilance is absolutely key to explosion prevention.

The Black Liquor Recovery Board Advisory Committee has recently introduced an emergency shutdown procedure, where an emergency evacuation alarm signals as soon as suspected water enters the BLRB furnace. The operator, with corresponding training, shuts down all fuel flow and minimizes combustion until all but a minimal amount of water is drained rom the BLRB. Annual inspections of BLRBs mandate the testing of all pressure parts and safety systems, because utmost care must be assured in preventing risk of system damage or operator harm when dealing with BLRB processes.

The World's Most Rugged Process Refractometer

Built for the most demanding industrial applications, Electron Machine process refractometers are designed from the ground up to handle abuse. From hot, dirty, and harsh environments in chemical plants and pulp mills, to the caustic wash downs and constant vibration in food and beverage processing, EMC process refractometers stand up to the punishment.

Electron Machine's reputation for building the world's most rugged process refractometer isn't an accident. They been providing durable, safe, reliable, and accurate process measurement and control instrumentation for more than 70 years. 

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Process Refractometers Maintain Product Quality in Commercial Food and Beverage Production

Process Refractometer
Process Refractometer (sensor)
(Electron Machine Corp.)
All commercial food products are selected on the basis of quality, freshness and affordability. Varying product quality is the best way to lose brand-loyal customers. Quality and consistency can be different between brands, but they cannot vary within a brand.

Manufacturers of juices, jellies, honey, wine, and carbonated beverages rely on the measurement of "Brix" to control product quality and consistency. Brix (symbol °Bx) is defined as 1 gram of sucrose in 100 grams of solution, and represents the strength of the solution as percentage by mass.

Examples of food and beverage products that need to carefully measure sucrose, fructose, and dextrose include soft drinks, fruit juices, dairy, apple sauces, jams, jellies, beer, wine, coffee, tea, vegetable oils, tomato products, and honey.  To do this, a device known as a refractometer is used to measure Brix (as well as other dissolved solids).

In smaller food and beverage applications, the refractometer is a handheld device used for batch sampling, but for high volume commercial processing, a more robust and heavy duty "process refractometers" is used. Sometimes referred to as "inline refractometers", these process instruments provide real-time, continuous measurement of Brix and dissolved solids.

Process Refractometer with
sensor mounted on sanitary
pipe shown with control box.
(Electron Machine Corp.)
This category of process refractometer is designed to provide very accurate and repeatable measurement for products flowing through a pipe or mixing in a vessel. They are designed to handle higher temperatures, resist contamination and corrosion, and they respond very quickly to any process deviation.

A process refractometer works by shining an LED light source from a range of angles, through a product sample, onto a prism surface. By measuring the difference in the reflection and refraction of the light source, a critical angle can be determined and the refractive index can be accurately calculated.  This measurement and calculation can be done accurately, repeatably, and quickly, making process refractometers the de-facto standard for the measurement of Brix in high production  food processing applications.

For more information on the use of process refractometers in food and beverage production, visit this link.