Showing posts with label food processing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label food processing. Show all posts

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.

Electron Machine Corporation

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.

Quality and Process Optimization with Inline Refractometers

Process refractometer in plant
Process refractometer
in plant.
Process refractometer
Process refractometer
(Electron Machine Corp.)
Refractometry is a technology used to quickly, reliably, and very accurately identify a sample and determine the concentration and purity levels. This is done be taking a sample and measuring the refractive index and temperature of the media.

Process refractometers are used for monitoring and controlling process variables in the flowing process media (liquid) . These instruments are used for continual, extremely accurate, real-time substance identification. Through identifying critical factors such as the concentration and purity, manufacturer's can gain tight control over quality can consistency of product. Applications for process refractometers are found in commercial food & beverage, chemical, pulp & paper, and pharmaceutical industries. All share similar processes lines where process refractometry provides real-time, high value information about the product at critical points. These shared processes are:
process refractometers food and beverage
Process refractometers are used
for food and beverage production.

The measurement of concentrations in compounds of organic chemicals, inorganic chemicals, and total dissolve solids are often required for product consistency. Process refractometers can be calibrated to detect a wide range of dilute chemicals and dissolved solids and be an excellent feedback mechanism for these process variables.

Using process refractometers for ingredient mixing to control product quality and production reduces errors and limits variance. Comparing the process media to known reference values, through the use of an inline refractometer, optimizes consistency and maintains quality.

process refractometers in pulp and paper
Process refractometers are critical
for making pulp and paper.
Crystallization plays a key role in purification in many chemical processes, ranging from pharmaceutical manufacturing to food processing to liquor processing in pulp & paper production.  Keeping track of concentration levels is essential for the crystallization process and process refractometers provide real time information that allow process optimization.

process refractometers in chemical production
Process refractometers
have many uses in
chemical production.
Changing product runs through existing lines is a major problem area for quality control. If a process line is used in the production of more than one product, it is important to ensure that no cross-product contamination occurs. To virtually eliminate this concern, process refractometers are used to check in for residual product presence (in real-time), providing assurance that purity levels are their highest.

For more information on industrial process refractometers, contact Electron Machine by visiting or call 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 or by calling 352-669-3101.

Inline Refractometers for the Production of Jams and Jellies

Refractometers for the Production of Jams and Jellies
Refractometers are used to maintain
standards of jams and jellies.
The quality and uniformity of a food product is paramount to the sales of that product. Assuring that standards are maintained is key to quality and consistency.  Jams, jellies, marmalades, conserves and fruit butters are characterized by concentration of fruit components and sugars. Attention to solids content, pH, and sweetness is essential, and controlling these variables in a production environment requires the proper systems, instruments, and automation.

Jams, jellies, marmalades, conserves and fruit butters are made by boiling fruit and sugar together to give a high solids product, and are characterized by concentration of their fruit components and sugars.

inline refractometer for jam and jelly production
Inline refractometer for jam and jelly production.
Accordingly, standards of identity have been enacted to require specific amounts of the comparatively expensive fruit ingredient. Without these guides, producers could substitute flavored and colored pectin and sugars in place of real fruit.

  • Jam – a product containing both soluble and insoluble fruit constituents.
  • Conserve or preserve – large pieces of fruit are present.
  • Butter - a smooth, semisolid fruit mixture with no fruit pieces or peel. May be spiced
  • Marmalade – are made from citrus fruits and contain some peel.
  • Jelly – is made from filtered fruit juice, no pieces of fruit or insoluble solids present.
In the U.S. jams and jelly products are graded as follows:
  • Fancy  - 50 parts fruit to 50 parts sugar 
  • Standard  - 45 parts fruit to 55 parts sugar 
  • Imitation - 35 parts fruit to 65 parts sugar
  • Fruit butters - At least 5 parts fruit to 2 parts sugar
Standards of identity can be easily formulated with the aid of a refractometer - and instrument that the sugar/solids content by the angle that the solution refracts or bends light. Refractometers are the preferred method of determining of measuring soluble solids and sugars in many food products.

In large scale commercial food production environments, inline process refractometers provide real-time sugar and solids measurement allowing plant operators tight control of product variables so that product uniformity and quality is maintained.

Refractometers for Food and Beverage Processing

Refractometers commonly used to detect sugar levels and properties of jams juices, beverages, dairy products and much more.

Electron Machine Corporation developed the first in-line process refractometer more than 50 years ago when orange juice was first concentrated. Since that time, their refractometers have been successfully applied on many more applications including the production of sucrose, fructose, dextrose, soft drinks, fruit juices, dairy, apple sauce, jams, jellies, beer, wine, coffee, tea, vegetable oils, tomato paste, ice cream and honey.

With an extremely durable Sapphire prism as its foundation, the Electron Machine MPR E-Scan combines accurate measurements with ruggedized components in the sensing head combining for years of of dependable and accurate service in harsh food production environments.

Understanding the Use of Inline Refractometers in Food and Beverage Production

refractometers for jams and jelly production
Inline refractometers are used
for jam and jelly production to
ensure consistency and quality.
This post is intended to give a basic understanding of the use of inline refractometers in commercial food and beverage production


According to Wikipedia, "Refraction is the change in direction of wave propagation due to a change in its transmission medium."

To understand more clearly, consider this. If you place a pencil in a jar of standing in water and look through the jar, it appears to be broken at the water line. When you add sugar to the water, the pencil appears to bend even more. The reason for this is because light travels slower in water than through air. When you dissolve materials (sugar) in the solution, the light will travel even slower.  Understanding this basic concept allows you to understand how you can measure, and therefore control, the concentration on a material in a solution through the use of refraction.

Refractive Index

The refractive index (RI), is the ratio between the speed of light in vacuum and the speed of light in a given media. It determines how much light is bent, or refracted, when entering a material. The Refractive Index of air is 1.0003, and the RI of most gases, liquids, and solids is between 1 and 2.

Refractive Index is defined as:
  • RI= Speed of Light in Vacuum / Speed of Light in a Particular Medium
Applying Refraction to Food and Beverage Processing

Food and beverage industries prefer to use their own units rather than the index of refraction for controlling quality of their product. Examples are measuring sugar content in tomato products, citrus juices, and jams and jellies. These industries prefer to use the % Brix scale, which refers to the sugar concentration. Refractive Index is easily converted to % Brix units through simple calculations.

Inline Refractometers for Large Scale Food and Beverage Production

Industrial inline refractometers directly measure the Refractive Index of process fluids and then display the reading in any number of customer-desired units such as Brix, Percent Solids, Dissolved Solids, etc. 

refractometer in food and beverage process
Inline refractometer in food and beverage process
highlighting sensing element and electronics console.
There are two primary components to an inline refractometer, the electronics console and the sensing head.  

The electronics console usually contains a display of some type, and provides a standard output such as 4-20mA. Optionally, there may be some form of networking protocol such as HART® or RS-232/422. 

The sensing head is installed in line by mounting the prism assembly in a pipe and inserting this pipe section in the process line. Vessel mounting is accommodated by having the prism assembly inserted in a flange that can be attached to a storage tank or mixing tank. 

For more information on any commercial or industrial application for inline refractometers, contact visit Electron Machine at or call 352-669-3101.

Inline Refractometers Used in Commercial Food and Beverage Production

refractometers for food processing
Refractometers assist in consistent quality
in commercial food and beverage processing.
All commercial food brands must assure a level of quality their users have grown to expect. A change in their product's quality can trigger a change in the customer's buying habits. The ability to provide consistent quality and taste is key to happy customers and continued sales.

For producers of many commercial food products, such as wine, fruit juice, jams, and carbonated beverages, a critical way to control quality is by measuring "Brix".

Brix is a unit of measurement used to to establish the concentration of sucrose and other sugars (as well as other dissolved solids) in aqueous solutions. When evaluating sweetness, one degree 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.

Inline refractometers provide commercial food,  juice and wine producers critical information about the make-up of their product. Many commercial food processing plants use refractometers to blend their products to consistent Brix level, thus assuring consistency. Because the dissolution of sucrose and other sugars in a solution changes the solution’s refractive index, measuring this change can be used reliably to measure consistency and quality. A 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 with speed, so inline refractometers have proven themselves reliable instruments for the measurement of Brix in all food processing applications.

Typical applications for the measurement of sucrose, fructose, and dextrose by an inline refractometer:
  • Soft drinks, fruit juices, dairy.
  • Apple sauces, jams and jellies.
  • Beer wine, coffee, and tea.
  • Vegetable oils.
  • Tomato pastes and sauces.
  • Honey.
For any questions about the use of refractometry in food and beverage processing, contact Electron Machine Company at 352-669-3101 or visit

The World's Most Rugged Inline Process Refractometers

Electron Machine manufactures the world's most rugged industrial, in-line refractometers used in pulp & paper processing, chemical production, and food and beverage processing.

The company is renowned for manufacturing industrial inline refractometers that hold up to the rigorous environments and the steady demands in these applications. These refractometers are built to withstand the most harsh conditions while delivering reliable and consistent readings and providing safe, reliable, and accurate process measurement and control.

Electron Machine inline refractometers are used in numerous applications in the paper industry such as black liquor, and green liquor sensing; in the food industry to detect sugar levels and properties of jams juices, beverages, and dairy product; and in the chemical industry to measure the strength of a chemical when diluted with water or another chemical.

For more information, visit

Industrial Refractometry: The Very Basics

Industrial Refractometry
Most objects can be evaluated quantitatively and qualitatively. Determining the number of cars on a highway is a quantitative calculation; determining the color of a car is a qualitative calculation. In the process control industry, analyzing the qualitative and quantitative natures of a product is one of the most important steps in ensuring a manufacturer is delivering their clients not only the best product, but making sure that every product made is the best product.

If you’ve ever cracked open a crisp, cold beer on a Sunday, sampled a great wine, or asked yourself, “why does this soda taste so good?” you’ve had experience with what the process control industry calls “industrial refractometry.” Pink Floyd’s album cover for Dark Side of the Moon, where a beam of light hits a prism at a certain angle and then exits the other side in multiple colors, illustrates a core component of refractometry. Refractometry measures the speed at which light passes through an object.

Here’s how evaluating a substance with a refractometer works: a substance is placed on top of a prism. Then, a beam of light shines through the prism and reflects through the substance. The refractometer compares how much slower (or faster) light travels through the object compared to the speed of light through air. The comparison allows the evaluator to determine qualitative aspects of the substance, such as the density or concentration. For standardization purposes, the speed at which light passes through air has a refractive index (RI) value of 1. If a substance has an RI value of 1.16, light travels 16% quicker through air compared to the substance on the prism. Depending on the color and temperature of the reflected light, even more qualitative characteristics of the substance can be determined.

Electron Machine Inline Refractometer
Electron Machine Inline Industrial Refractometer

While the process won’t always help determine what exactly a substance is (different substances can have the same RI values), refractometry is essential in determining how something is. If a corporation knows the RI value of a liquid product, they can ensure each iteration of said product is precisely made, quantitatively and qualitatively. When two substances are being combined to create one resulting substance, refractometry can show exactly how close the combined substance is to being an accurate fusion.

Overall, refractometry is used by industrial companies as a control method. Industry professionals use refractometers to perform evaluations; these refractometers range from small, hand-held devices to full-powered, computer-controlled precision machines which measure the quality of every product coming out of on an assembly line. Refractometry is an objective way to prove standards are being met while achieving production excellence, making refractometry an extremely valuable tool for industrially geared businesses of almost every size.

So, the next time you want to combine coffee and creamer, if you know the refractive value of the best cup of coffee, you could use your own refractometer to measure how close you are to the perfect morning blend!

Consistent Ice Cream Quality with Inline Process Refractometer

inline refractometer makes better ice cream
Inline refractometer helps
make better ice cream.
Improve large scale ice cream production and quality control by accurately measuring milk and sugar concentrations with inline process refractometers. The refractometer directly measures dissolved solids, which can be easily converted to Brix. This measurement is unaffected by bubbles or suspended particles.

The Electron Machine MPR E-Scan refractometer is used to measure both the dairy concentration as well as the sweetener (sucrose, fructose, etc.) Brix level going into the mixing tank. This in-line measurement allows real-time trimming of both ingredients to meet the final target concentration in the mixing tank. Additional measurement of the mixed product is used for further adjustments to the composition before packaging.

By installing the Electron Machine Corporation MPR E-Scan a factory can insure an accurate process control resulting in consistent ice cream quality. Thus, increasing profit from economical operation. By maintaining a desired process concentration there will be a decrease in offline testing and an increase quality control. This results in the ability to optimize work force man hours and eliminate unnecessary product waste saving the factory time and money.

Applying Process Refractometers in Sugar Cane Processing

sugar cane and refined white sugar
Raw and final product of sugar refining
Sugar cane, after harvesting, requires processing within a limited time window to avoid sugar loss by inversion to glucose and fructose. The traditional two stage process, milling and processing, may be combined in a single modern production facility. Process refractometers can be found in both operations, making an optical measurement of a solution’s refractive index used to determine the concentration of dissolved solids.

To achieve high quality liquid and crystal sugars and contain production cost, refractometers are employed to deliver accurate in-line Brix and other measurements in the cane sugar refining and milling processes. 

Specific uses of refractometers in sugar production are:
  • Product flow adaptation to evaporator capacity to achieve energy savings.
  • Extraction process optimization, minimizing the use of water that will need to be removed at the evaporator.
  • Separation column feed juice control to adjust concentration to match capacity.
  • Quality assurance check on liquid bulk sugar and molasses.
  • Vacuum pan automatic and accurate seeding.
  • Monitor supersaturation over complete strike of crystallization.
Share your refractometry challenges and applications with the experts at Electron Machine Corporation for effective solutions.