Showing posts with label Inline Refractometer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Inline Refractometer. Show all posts

Hydrochloric Acid Concentration Control Using Inline Process Refractometers

Hydrochloric Acid Concentration Refractometer
Hydrochloric Acid, HCL, is a versatile chemical used in a number of industrial chemical processes such as hydrometallurgical processing, chlorine dioxide synthesis, hydrogen production, and petroleum well activation. Hydrochloric Acid is also commonly used in various metal etching and cleaning processes (pickling of steel), masonry cleaning processes, and the production of plastics (such as PVC), polyurethane production, leather tanning, and in food additive processing.  The dilute version of HCL is Muriatic Acid, which was originally called "acidum salis" and "spirits of salt" because it was produced from rock salt in the 15th century.

Measuring the Concentration of Hydrochloric Acid (sometimes referred to as Concentration Density of Hydrochloric Acid) is a critical part of the production process for all applications mentioned above.  It is important to closely monitor the concentration levels of the hydrochloric acid with a high degree of accuracy and reliability. Although Hydrochloric Acid Concentration can be created in excess of 40% (Concentrated Grade), Industrial Grade high concentration HCL is 30-35%, which is most stable for transport and storage, and reduces the loss of HCL to evaporation.  As the concentration lowers, other names for the concentrations exist, such as Muriatic Acid which can range in concentrations of 21-35%.  

Hydrochloric Acid is a prime candidate for concentration measurement through use of its Refractive Index (R.I.).  Unlike Sulfuric Acid, the R.I. for HCL Acid is extremely linear, rising from 0% at 1.333 R.I. to 40% at 1.425 R.I.  

An inline process refractometer is used to monitor the concentration of Hydrochloric Acid level in real time. Based upon the refractive index (R.I.) of a given aqueous solution, the refractometer can determine the HCL concentration of the solution and relay that value in real time for proactive process control.  

The Electron Machine Corporation’s family of inline process refractometers are the ideal instrument for measuring these concentrations. 

Electron Machine Corporation manufactures the MPR E-Scan; a rugged, dependable, accurate, and cost effective in-line refractometer.  Capabilities include 4-20mA and  0-10VDC outputs, a variety of up to 8 internal relays for direct control of a variety of valves, alarms, and warning indicators, as well as the capability of saving up to 99 different recipes each with their own alarms, set-points and controls. The wetted metal of the sensing head is normally made from Tantalum (other alloys are available). The non-wetted parts and the interconnection cable can be Teflon® coated for added protection.

Benefits of Using the MPR E-Scan:

  • High precision and durability in extremely corrosive conditions.
  • Continuous quality control.
  • Hazardous chemical environmental and safety regulation compliance.
  • Low maintenance, repeatable operation.

Please contact Electron Machine Corporation (+1 352-669-3101) for more information or check out our many accounts on social media. 

Inline Process Refractometers for the Pharmaceutical and Food Processing Industries


Pharmaceutical and Food IndustriesWhen it comes to easily, reliably and accurately determining the concentration, identification or purity of substances, refractometry is the ideal method. Inline process refractometers are especially helpful as they supplement laboratory research and contribute to production improvement. These process analyzers deliver results within fractions of a second, allowing real-time monitoring and automatic control of processes.


Electron Machine Corporation's MPR E-Scan™ inline refractometers provide process analysis and control of liquid and slurry process streams in pharmaceutical and food processing applications. The MPR E-Scan™ provides accurate control and precise monitoring of variables in process streams, including percent concentration, solids dissolution, and solution reduction. The inline process refractometer also excels in measuring and managing crystallization, verifying and regulating the correct mix of various compounds, and determining the sugar concentration in a wide variety of products. In addition, the MPR E-Scan™ is often used to track concentrations in evaporation processes.

MPR E-Scan™
The MPR E-Scan™ is available in a broad range of models to accomodate a wide variety of measurement ranges and resolutions, providing users an abundance of choices to fit the right equipment to the right application.

Designed with ruggedness and durability in mind, the IP65 / NEMA 4X rated MPR E-Scan™ will withstand the rigors of CIP (Clean-in-Place), allowing the inline process refractometer to be thoroughly and meticulously cleaned at any time in a process environment. Each process refractometer is designed and manufactured specifically for each application, assuring trouble-free service with a minimum amount of maintenance for years to come.

The operation of the MPR E-Scan™ inline process refractometer is based upon the principle of light reflection. Light radiated from the LED passes through the prism surface to be reflected from a mirror 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 a second mirror and out of the prism up to the CCD linear array to be scanned.

In short, the MPR E-Scan™ inline process refractometer makes process metrics more visible to the user and significantly reduces product quality fluctuations. This increases efficiency, lowers production costs, and increases process reliability.  The MPR E-Scan™ can be applied to a wide range of applications in the pharmaceutical and food industries, thanks to their field-proven and reliable technology.

Electron Machine Corporation
https://electronmachine.com
352-669-3101

New! 24 Volt, DC-DC Option for the DCR E-Scan and MPR E-Scan In-line Process Refractometers

Electron Machine Corporation announced June 2, 2020 that the new 24v DC-DC Power Supply has been officially released for use in the DCR E-Scan and MPR E-Scan models.

“This is the successful culmination of many hours work and several revisions,” says Jack Wilburn, Operations Manager for Electron Machine, “and provides us the ability to satisfy the needs of many clients who seek a mobile solution for in-line process measurement of Refractive Index.” 

Reading Milk Fat content, de-icing solutions, and the measurement of sugars on harvesting equipment are just a few of the applications this new power supply address. Static operations that benefit from this advancement are solar operated locations as well as areas that lack high voltage AC service. This new option provides a solution for these low power areas.

Read the full article here. 


Please contact Electron Machine Corporation (+1 352-669-3101) for more information, or check out our accounts on most all social media platforms.

Inline Process Refractometers for Measurement and Control of Sulfuric Acid Concentration in Industrial Applications

Sulfuric Acid Concentration
Sulfuric Acid (Sulphuric Acid, H2SO4) is a widely used commodity chemical. Because of it's corrosive properties, special attention has to be paid to its handling and storage. Measuring the concentration of Sulfuric Acid (sometimes referred to as Concentration Density of Sulfuric Acid) is a critical part of the production process. Controlling H2SO4 concentration is very important in many industrial applications including the production of fertilizers, oil refinement, chemical processing, mineral processing and wastewater treatment. Maintaining the desired Sulfuric Acid concentration density ensures it's safe handling and ultimately affects product quality. Industrial inline process refractometers provide the best solution for determining and maintaining Sulfuric Acid concentration.


For more information contact Electron Machine by calling +1 352-669-3101 or visit their web site at https://electronmachine.com.

International Certifications and Explosion Proof Ratings for the MPR E-Scan Inline Process Refractometer

International Certifications
Electron Machine Corporation manufactures the MPR E-Scan; a rugged, dependable, accurate, and cost effective in-line refractometer. 

Capabilities include 4-20mA and 0-10VDC outputs, a variety of up to 8 internal relays for direct control of a variety of valves, alarms, and warning indicators, as well as the capability of saving up to 99 different recipes each with their own alarms, set-points and controls. All models of the MPR E-Scan are IP66, NEMA4X rated, for rugged use and maximum durability.

For our European clients, MPR E-Scan in the various models listed above are CE certified, which includes compliance with RoHS and WEEE Directives. Additionally, our MPR E-Scan I.S. is ATEX certified, Certificate Number: ITS19ATEX204319X, and a rating of Ex II 1 G Ex ia IIC T4 Ga -20C <= Ta <= +52C.

Our clients in North America are served by our family of MPR E-Scan that are cETLus certified to UL Standards 61010-1, 60079-0, and 60079-11; as well as CSA standards C22.2 # 61010-1, C22.2 # 60079-0, and C22.2 # 60079-11. Additionally, the MPR E-Scan I.S. model is certified HAZLOC Class 1, Division 1, Groups A-D T4, Class 1, Zone 0, Ex ia IIC T4 Ga, Ex ia IIC T4 Ga at a temperature range of -20C <= T amb <= +52C.

For our clients throughout Africa, Asia, and Australia, the MPR E-Scan I.S. is IECEx Certified, Certificate Number IECEx ETL 19.0001X, fully compliant with standards IEC 60079-0:2017 and IEC 60079-11:2011. The rating is: Ex ia IIC T3 -20C <= T amb <= +52C.

 Electron Machine also works with specific local certifications and is currently in the application process for Japanese TIIS acceptance for the MPR E-Scan I.S.

Please contact Electron Machine Corporation (+1 352-669-3101) for more information or check out our many accounts on social media.

Using a Spool Adapter with Your Inline Process Refractometer

Spool Adapter
Two versions of inline refractometer adapters.
Inline refractometers use process adapters as the mechanical connection between the refractometer sensing head and the process piping. The adapter, also referred to as a "spool piece", is designed specifically to accommodate the pipe size and application.

On applications where pipe sizes are 2" or larger, the use of a refractometer sensing head spool adapter is suggested. This ancillary piece of hardware provides a mounting point for the sensing head between two flanges directly in the process piping.

The spool adapter positions the sensing head so that it measures from the center of the process flow. The spool adapter design includes an internal deflector and a 5 degree (angular) sensing head mounting connection. The deflector and angled mounting connection reduces sensor head coating issues from the process media. A steam purge tube connection is standardly included to accommodate steam/fluid cleaning.

Spool Adapter
Spool adapter with sensing
head mounted.
Spool adapters recommended mounting orientation is horizontal, generally placed in a horizontal segment of process piping. Vertical mounting is also acceptable, as long as the process flow is in an upward direction.

Spool Adapter
Spool adapter with hand
cleaning option.
Inline refractometer spool adapters are available with option to facilitate cleaning, service and process protection. Examples are lined adapters, hand cleaner adapters, high pressure cleaner adapters, isolation valves, sanitary connection adapters, and weld-in adapters.

Process Refractometers for Instant Coffee Production

Refractometers in instant coffee production
The morning alarm rings and you slowly rise for your daily routine.  You can’t wait to get the first taste of your day: Coffee!  One of the first things millions of people do worldwide to start their day is enjoy a nice hot cup of coffee.  Some people brew their own fresh coffee, some buy it ready made at their local convenience store or coffee shop, while others turn to their favorite brand of instant coffee (just add hot water, stir and it’s ready).

Approximately one third of all coffee consumed worldwide is instant coffee.  That number is lower in the United States, but other countries such as Great Britain and Japan love the stuff!  Instant coffee differs from the fresh ground bean version because it has already been brewed before at the factory.  The raw beans are cooked to perfection by the manufacturer.  They are then ground and brewed to very specific taste standards.  After the perfect brew is made, it is freeze dried and ground into tiny morsels just begging for some hot water to release their flavor again. 

The consistency and quality of the instant coffee that comes from each brewed batch is of vital
importance to the manufacturer.  If the end product is not consistent with the customers’ taste standards, then the brand will lose customers to other manufacturers who have a better, more consistent, brew.  It is during the brewing process where the inline refractometer plays a huge role in quality control.

process refractometer
Process refractometer sensor.

In the production of instant coffee, as large batches of coffee are brewed, process refractometers are used to monitor concentrations in evaporation procedures. The process refractometers are used to measure the amount of total dissolved solids (TDS), which refers to the amount of the soluble flavor material from the coffee bean that is extracted as a part of the brewing process. Coffee grounds are made up of about 70% non-soluble material and about 30% of soluble compounds. These soluble compounds are responsible for the coffee's taste. For a delicious instant coffee time and time again for the customer, the manufacturer must keep tight TDS tolerances on their batches of brew.  If the TDS measurement varies too much in each brewed batch, the end product will be inconsistent. This will lead to customer dissatisfaction, and ultimately loss of sales.

So the next time you enjoy a nice hot cup of instant coffee...thank the refractometer for helping maintain its’ deliciously consistent taste!

Electron Machine Corporation manufactures inline, process refractometers for large scale food and beverage production applications.

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

The Important Role of the Inline Refractometer in Juice and Beverage Production

Inline Refractometer in Beverage Production
Every time a consumer purchases a beverage that they enjoy drinking again and again, it is because they love the taste of their favorite drink.  Why do they love it?  Because they have grown to trust that the taste they expect is always the same!  They continue to purchase their favorite drink because it is dependable, reliable, and delicious for them every time!

The consumer gets this feeling because of the consistency of product. The consistency is a function of production processes on the part of the manufacturer. Many drinks and beverages have a certain amount of sugar added for optimal taste.  If the process used to mix the sweetener into the drink deviates, even in the slightest, then product consistency will suffer and so will consumer satisfaction.

Enter the process refractometer.  With its precisely calibrated refractive index set to the exact parameters specified by the manufacturer, the quality and consistency of each and every product batch will fall within the acceptable quality control range.  Any deviation from the "sweetness" settings (degrees Brix) are immediately detected by the inline refractometer, and can be quickly corrected by automated signals sent to a final control element and eliminate the deviation. This ensures a quality product for consumers time in and time out, as well as keeping costly losses due to defective batches at a minimum.

Another area in beverage production where inline refractometers are used is in the container and piping sanitization processes. Each producer must keep their process components cleaned and sanitized to industry and government standards. The beverage manufacturer needs to ensure container cleanliness prior to filling, and also guarantee proper flushing of the process piping during product changeover. The cleaning process is regularly done with some aggressive chemicals, namely hydrogen peroxide and sodium hydroxide.  Inline refractometers are used to ensure the precise concentration of theses two cleaning agents. By using the specific refractive index of each chemical, a process refractometer can control the optimal amount for the cleansing processes, again ensuring quality and consistency on the part of the manufacturer, while offering peace of mind that the process components are cleaned and sanitized to exact industry and government standards.

Process refractometers proved an extremely important role in the production of juices and beverages in both the product consistency, and also the safety and cleanliness of the production process.

For more information, contact Electron Machine Corporation by calling 352-669-3101 or visit their web site at https://electronmachine.com.

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.

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.

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

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.

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. 

352-669-3101

Get to Know Electron Machine Corporation

Electron Machine Corporation, headquartered Umatilla, FL, manufactures industrial, inline, process refractometers. As a vertically-integrated manufacturer, we have complete control over the time it takes to manufacture our instruments providing the highest levels of service and support to our customers. Superb quality control is attained by adapting modern technology and practices to existing designs. These include in-house microprocessor and DSP software design, surface-mount PC card design and assembly, 3D CAD/CAM designing, CNC machining, and MIG/TIG welding. Additionally, our founder's innovative nature is still with us as we continue to research and develop new products.

Learn more about Electron Machine at https://www.electronmachine.com or by calling 352-669-3101.

Isolation Valve Adapter and Safeguard Tool Demonstration

Plant personnel safety is extremely important to Electron Machine. Our Isolation Valve Adapter has a proven track record for safety and reliability for safe removal of our process refactometer sensing heads from a pressurized pipeline. Continuing toward our goal for absolute safety, EMC designed and developed the EMC Safeguard Tool, a device designed to further increase safety should abnormal situations arise when removing a sensing head from the process pipe line. Check out the demonstration below for a full understanding.

For more information, visit http://www.electronmachine.com or call 352-669-3101.

Industrial Refractometers in Action: Pulp & Paper Mill

This video below highlights various applications for inline refractometers in a pulp and paper mill.

The Electron Machine Corporation pioneered the use of refractometers to accurately measure black liquor dissolved solids nearly 50 years ago. Our long history with this application has resulted in numerous design features that specifically address problems associated with this harsh process measurement. Electron Machine refractometers have been accurately measuring green liquor solids in the paper industry for more than 30 years.

For more information visit http://www.electronmachine.com or call 352-669-3101.

Industrial Refractometers in Brownstock Washing

Pulp and paper mill
Pulp and paper mill.
In pulp and paper production, brown stock washers are used to recover cooking chemicals from pulp production and are critical for maximizing chemical recovery which impacts the financial success and environmental compliance of a pulp mill.

The purpose of brownstock washing is to remove soluble matter from the pulp while using the least amount of water. Efficient washing improves the recovery of cooking chemicals, reduces the use of chemicals during bleaching, increase pulp quality and helps reduce deposit buildup. By utilizing a refractometer to measure the black liquor solids in the feed and outlet stock lines, and the incoming and outgoing filtrate lines, a paper company can experience increased control and cost savings.

The Electron Machine MPR E-Scan gives paper companies the ability to accurately control the washing line, by detecting changes in the total dissolved solids coming off the washers. This precise measurement allows effective control of the fresh water flow to the washers, reducing excessive water usage.

Combining the measurement with data analysis tools, a company can monitor inefficiencies in the washing line and evaluate the washing results. Allowing improvements in washing efficiency and overall reduction in water. The MPR E- Scan will reduce the overall time needed to meet target dilution. With near instant readings of black liquor concentration and temperature, the instrument removes the reliance on offline testing.

The MPR E-Scan is constructed of various alloys to ensure a long service life in a harsh chemical environment. With our customer pipeline adapters, the instruments can be implemented into any process. Due to the unique measurement principle, the instrument's readings are unaffected by bubbles, particles, fibers, color, flow, pressure or vibration. By utilizing the instrument to control and monitor the brownstock washing, paper companies can guarantee that proper dilution was met and maintained.

Electron Machine MPR E-Scan
Electron Machine MPR E-Scan
KEY BENEFITS
  • Increased washing efficiency
  • Continuous accurate control of dilution factor
  • Consistent pulp quality Increased evaporator efficiency
  • Reduced wash loss and decrease wash water
  • Error and Warning light indications Reduced time for correct wash concentration
  • Continuous temperature readings 
Learn more about industrial refractometers and their application in the pulp and paper process by visiting the Electron Machine website at http://electronmachine.com or by calling 352-669-3101.

DCR E-Scan Hybrid-Digital Refractometer

DCR E-Scan
The DCR E-Scan is a hybrid-digital critical angle refractometer. It is used to measure the refractive index of process fluids and may be used as an integral part of a complete process control system.

With an extremely durable Sapphire prism as the foundation, the hybrid-digital design provides digital accuracy with rugged components in the sensing head. This combination produces the essential dependability required for years of use when installed in harsh industrial environments.

The DCR E-Scan is the cost-effective refractometer for an accurate and dependable reading. Electron Machine Corporation calibrates each DCR E-Scan specifically for the intended application. The digital display coupled with the 4-20mA output provides the complete control desired at an affordable cost without sacrificing the rugged reliability desired for today's industrial applications.

Don't Forget Customer Support and Technical Support When Buying Process Instruments

Happy Customer Service
Make sure your vendor's Customer Service and Tech Support
are knowledgeable, experienced, and ENTHUSIASTIC.
Today, many engineers do their product selection largely via the Internet, and usually by just comparing specifications between manufacturers. While this provides a fast, efficient, and objective means to narrow down prospective vendors, it totally ignores a critically important (albeit subjective) component to the success of their project - the vendor's Customer and Technical Support infrastructure.

When choosing a vendor for process instrumentation (industrial refractometers for instance), it's imperative to include an evaluation of the vendor's Technical Support and Customer Support infrastructure. Realizing what these professionals have to contribute, and taking advantage of their knowledge and talent, will save time and money, and greatly contribute to a successful project outcome.

Understanding Why Technical Support and Customer Support are Critical

It's all about two things:
  1. Experience
  2. Attitude

Experience


"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur." Red Adair

By the nature of their job, Customer Service personnel are current on new products, their capabilities and their proper application. Unlike anecdotal information available on the Web, support personnel have first hand knowledge and hands-on experience. They've seen successful (and unsuccessful) product implementation scenarios and are eager to share. A brief discussion about your application with a specialist will guide you toward selecting the best equipment for the requirement. Also, because they are exposed to so many different applications and situations, Customer/Tech Support personnel are a wealth of ancillary application knowledge.

As a project engineer, you may be treading on fresh ground regarding some aspects of fully understanding the project you're working on. You may not have a full grasp on how to handle a particular challenge presented by the application. Calling upon a source with past exposure and experience to your current application prior to product selection will provide a very real, and very valuable benefit.

Attitude:


"Customer service is not a department, it’s everyone’s job." Anonymous

Choose a company that places a huge emphasis on customer service and do some due-diligence. Determine if they're merely providing lip service, or if extreme customer service oozes from the company pores. 

Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart once said "The goal as a company is to have customer service that is not just the best, but legendary." Make sure the vendor you're evaluating sees things the same way.  While reviews or testimonials (if there are any) can be helpful, they should be viewed judiciously. You're going to have to talk to people and get your own "gut-feel".  Do the employee's seem upbeat and happy? Are they knowledgeable? If they can't answer a question, do they volunteer to connect you with someone who can?  Are they enthusiastic?

As an engineer who designs or manufactures a product or process, it's strongly recommended you make the effort to research, contact, and get a first-hand feel for your prospective vendor's Customer and Technical Support Team. Learn about their product and application knowledge, their experience and their commitment to excellence. Taking the time to do this will raise the likelihood that your project will come in on time, on budget and shine brightly upon you.

Inline Process Refractometers in Tomato Processing

Tomato Processing
Inline Process Refractometers in Tomato Processing
It's obvious that tomato processors have a need to predict product yield, consistency and quality, as these variables directly affect sales and profitability. However, consistency and quality in tomato products is fairly difficult to control because of the fruit variation, harvest maturity, and farming area.

Consumers often select tomato sauces, pastes, purees and dressings based on sweetness levels, so it's very important food producers to accurately control sweetness. The common method for measuring sweetness in this industry is by reading Brix. Degrees Brix (°Bx) is the measure of the amount of sugar in an aqueous solution and is used because it's reliable and fast.

Refractometry is used to determine degrees Brix, and refractometers are the instruments used for the measurement. Very basically, refractometers use a prism to determine how light bends through a substance. The change in light direction is then used to repeatably determine certain values - in this case Brix.

There are several types of refractometers in food processing. Many food processing labs do batch sampling through the use of hand-held refractometers. Another type is the inline process refractometer.  It is used to provide a Brix measuring control loop right on the production line, and can be employed anywhere in the overall process from evaporation stages up to the concentrated final product.

Inline Process Refractometers
Inline Process Refractometer
Inline process refractometers are installed using a sanitary-type pipe adapter, designed and manufactured to appropriate 3-A Sanitary Standards. Should the tomato product be known to produce stubborn coatings on the refractometer prism, a steam port is added to the adapter to allow the prism to be steam cleaned at specific intervals.

The head of the refractometer is mounted directly in the processing line and provides real-time detection of Brix with a measurable output. The refractometer's circuitry then conditions the head's output and compares it to a desired value in a controller. The controller provides a corrective output signal, such as 4-20mA, to a final control element, such as a control valve. The control valve increases or decreases the amount of an ingredient to keep things in balance. Not unlike any other process control variable (pressure, temperature, level or flow), Brix measurement is determined and controlled via it's own control loop by the inline process refractometer,  providing the tomato processor greater control over product quality and consistency.

For more information on the use of inline process refractometers in tomato processing, contact Electron Machine at 352-669-3101 or visit http://electronmachine.com.