In our previous blog we’ve already discussed many applications at a campsite where Bronkhorst solutions are used. However, we did not mention a very important aspect of camping life; food and beverage. Delicacies like ice cream, soda and candy are also inextricably linked to the summer and to Bronkhorst. Let me explain why…
Ice cream aeration with mass flow controllers
Have you ever celebrated summer holidays without eating ice cream? I didn’t. To create ice cream, aeration in the production process is crucial. This because air makes up anywhere from 30% to 50% of the total volume of ice cream. Higher aeration will produce a tastier and smoother ice cream. A side effect of adding air to ice cream is that it tends to melt more quickly. Thus, for attaining an optimal structure of the ice cream, it is important to have a stable inlet air flow in the production process with a constant cream/air ratio. This can be achieved by using a mass flow controller. If you got a big appetite to read more about the production process of ice cream, please read the blog about the aeration process.
Carbonation process of soda
During the warm days it is important that you stay hydrated. So, a tasty soft drink is by no means a frivolous luxury. The "fssst" you hear when opening a bottle of sparkling soda, is millions of carbon dioxide (CO2) molecules bursting out of their watery prisons, where they have been held against their will. In the soda industry an effective solution is needed to add CO2 gas to liquids, quick and consistent. Soft drink manufacturers add this tingling sensation by forcing carbon dioxide and water into your soda at high pressures, with the help of a thermal mass flow controller for gas. It’s important that the carbonation process is accurate. Inadequate CO2 injection will end in ‘flat’ beverage, while excessive carbonation can possibly break the bottle, which leads to safety issues and loss of product.
Surface treatment for packaging
Not only beverage itself originates with Bronkhorst products. The packaging used for foods must meet many requirements, whereby flow meters are needed. To extend the shelf life, the packaging must be sterile and oxygen must be eliminated during filling. Also here, an accurate and reproducible flow is very important. Coriolis mass flow meters, CEM (Controlled evaporation mixer) and gas mass flow controllers are the key instruments in these processes. To read more about this process, please read the blog of James Walton, where he explains the sterilization of packaging to extend shelf life.
Additive dosing in candy manufacturing
Certainly the parents among us will know the strong preference of children for candy, due of its sweetness but also because of their attractive colours. During the manufacturing of candy, additives such as colourings, flavourings and acids are added. By using ultrasonic volume flow meters, the accuracy of measurement has been improved, and so is the quality control of the manufacturing process. Many colourings and flavourings are costly agents, and a controlled and efficient use of these substances will gain a better quality product, and will save on raw materials as well.
Dosing colourants is not only applicable with foods. When we have finished our diner, there’s one thing everyone runs away from, certainly during vacation…
Dosing colourants in detergent with Coriolis mass flow controllers
Dishwashing; it’s one of the most tedious tasks of camp life, especially when you are used to a dishwasher at home. However, with a little help from Bronkhorst, dishwashing becomes a bit more colourful. Coriolis mass flow controllers are used for dosing colourants (or dye). This applies, among other things, to the production of dishwashing detergent. As well as in flavouring, accuracy and repeatability with dye dosing are of extreme importance for a detergent manufacturer. Every flacon has to be the same colour, you should not see any colour difference between the flacons on the shelves. For this, combining a pump with Coriolis mass flow controllers makes the pump dose mass flow instead of the usual volume flow. Since real mass flow is independent of the fluid properties of the colourant, the accuracy will be inimitable.
As you can read Bronkhorst is present in many products at a campsite without you knowing it. Want to learn more about how Bronkhorst is involved in camping life? Read our blog ‘Camping applications that are made possible with mass flow control’.
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The temperatures are sky high! All winter you've thought about going camping, travelling with your caravan and planning precious family trips. Finally now it’s the time to leave everything behind, and for a moment, forget the busy daily live and struggling at home. However, everywhere you go, Bronkhorst is travelling with you. Bronkhorst plays a role in many more applications than you think, also when you go camping. Let me guide you through some mainstream products you often see at a camping site, and the involvement of mass flow controllers.
If you are travelling to your holiday destination by car, you will constantly look at some Bronkhorst solutions. Let’s start with the dashboard of your car. Many cars have a leather dashboard; at least, it looks like leather. A major company manufactures ‘skin’ that covers a car's dashboard, to give it this ‘leather look’. The skin is produced by spraying liquid, coloured polyurethane into a nickel mould. A Coriolis mass flow controller combined with a valve forms the basis of this solution to accurately supply external release agent to the nickel mould surface.
But also the foam within the dashboard is manufactured by using Bronkhorst products. To create foam, a gas is added to a mixture, containing acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) or polyvinyl chloride (PVC), to give it the right volume. Too much gas will make the foam unstable, too little and you’ll get a heavy solid block. Therefore, it is utterly important that the correct amount of gas is added with an accurate gas flow controller.
If you look beyond your dashboard, you’ll look through the front window of your car. To control the light transmittance of glass, but also to make glass water repellent, protect it from mechanical and chemical stress, increase the scratch resistance and shatter protection, thermal mass flow controllers are used for the coating process. By controlling individually process gas flows, film thickness uniformity improvements are achieved.
Coating on headlights
When polycarbonate was introduced as a replacement for headlights glass in the early 1980s, new problems arised. Headlights are subject to a harsh environment. Due to the position in the front of a car, critical parameters for lifetime and performance are weather ability, scratches and abrasion. To protect headlights from these factors, scratch and abrasion coatings have been developed that are sprayed on the headlights with the help of robots in which Coriolis mass flow controllers control the flow to the spraying nozzles.
However, surface treatment is not only applicable for glass and dashboards. If you have experience with camping, you will be familiar with how fierce the summer weather sometimes can be. The awning of your caravan needs to be water repellent - this also applies to your raincoat - to sustain the heavy rainfall now and then. To make fabrics and textiles hydrophobic, Empa - a research institute of the ETH Domain, applies plasma polymerisation to deposit thin, nanoscale layers on top of fabrics and fibers. For this, they are using a Controlled Evaporation and Mixing system, in short a CEM system. In one of our previous blogs ‘Hydrophobic coating, the answer to exercising in the rain’ you can read about this application.
Mass flow controllers are used to make awnings hydrophobic
Bronkhorst is also involved with many smaller attributes you will encounter on a campingsite. Most people still enjoy the comfort of gas for heating or cooking on the stove. But also with gas we are able to fire up the barbecue in no time at all, in comparison with the old-fashioned briquettes that are sometimes hard to ignite. When gas escapes from a pressurized cylinder, you’ll recognize this from its penetrating scent. However, like Sandra Wassink stated in her blog “How mass flow controllers make our gas smell”, natural gas is odorless. By controlled supply of odorants like Tetrahydrothiophene (THT) or Mecaptan with a mass flow controller, the scent is added to the natural gas on purpose.
Let’s stay with the topic scent for a moment. For when we want to decrease the amount of mosquitos in our surroundings, we often enlight a citronella candle when we are getting tired of using the flyswatter. With the CORI-FILL dosing technology, Bronkhorst offers an easy-to-use setup to dose fragrances, like citronella, in candles. The addition of fragrance to a candle should be carefully monitored to ensure the candle burns cleanly and safely. To read in more detail about the production of scented candles, please read the blog of Graham Todd.
However a candle can bring much light to your surroundings, you won’t take a candle with you when you haste to the camping toilets at night. Instead you will use a flashlight of course. The working principle of the LED (Light Emitting Diode) inside this flashlight is a technology where Bronkhorst plays its part. LED works via the phenomenon called electroluminescence, which is the emission of light from a semiconductor (diode) under the influence of an electric field. By applying a semiconducting material like Gallium arsenide phosphide for instance, the manufacturing of red, orange and yellow light emitting diodes is possible.
I already told you so much, but frankly, just a tiny bit of all the camping applications we are involved at. Hopefully you got some more insights on the importance of Bronkhorst in many industries, also when you go camping.
If you want more information concerning the discussed applications, please contact us.
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The Tour de France has started last week, and all cyclists have prepared for this particular event for months. But, did you ever thought about how flow measurement could be of influence on the cyclists’ performance? Here’s how……
A while ago I had the chance to visit Relitech in Nijkerk. A company that is specialized in the development and design of reliable healthcare solutions. I talked to both Directors Ivar Donker and Henk van Middendorp about the activities of Relitech in the medical industry and their Metabolic Simulator. With all their enthusiasm and dedication in their line of work, I came to new insights regarding their matter and the importance of a company like Relitech.
In sports it’s all about optimal performance. Athletes are forced to push boundaries and the devil is in the details, more than ever. A few hundreds of a second can make a huge difference in - for example - a gold medal race. So testing the athletes’ condition and endurance is an important part in the bigger picture of their performances. This can help them to train more efficiently and it provides information that can be used for maybe a change in for example, the athlete’s diet. For metabolic measuring, a lung function device could be used and these systems often easily interfaced with ECG’s, bikes and other external devices for complete, integrated cardiopulmonary exercise testing.
The big question is how to get the best performance by meeting legal regulations? Validation is the magic word. And for that, Relitech developed a metabolic simulator. Let’s take a look at some of the technical details of a device like that.
Metabolic simulator: quality control for respiratory products
In order to keep a high performance of respiratory products like lung function devices, they need to be validated, to meet the demands of legal regulations as well. The current situation in quality control regarding devices like these, is that it’s limited due to the fact that each sensor (O2, CO2 and flow) is calibrated separately, disregarding the critical dynamic interaction between each sensor. Relitech therefore came up with an in-field solution for their customers by developing this metabolic simulator.
Thermal mass flow controller
As we’re getting closer to the answer on the question I asked at the very beginning of this blog, we need to dig a little deeper into the Relitech simulator. First of all it’s fully mobile, which means it’s easy to transport and secondly it is ideal for on-site testing (in for example a lung function device used for athletes). The simulator mixes pure nitrogen and carbon dioxide by using two Bronkhorst thermal mass flow controllers. By mixing those two gases you can generate breathing gas exchange patterns, real-time and extremely close to authentic human breathing patterns. The results are so-called capnographs that resemble the ones of for example, athletes. On the readout display of the Metabolic Simulator the capnograph values are visible. V’CO2 represents the exhaled amount of carbon dioxide and V’O2 is the amount of oxygen inhaled. BF is simply an abbreviation for breathing frequency.
“Using mass flow controllers is not new to me…” Van Middendorp explains, “…as I was already involved in designing lung function systems long before I joined Relitech in 2002.”
“As we started developing the metabolic simulator here at Relitech, we were looking for compact and highly accurate mass flow controllers and that’s where Bronkhorst and I crossed paths. So partly by using these compact thermal flow controllers we were able to develop an even more compact simulator design.”
Relitech, reliable technology
With dedication and passion Relitech develops reliable technology by focusing on electronics, software and embedded software. In combination with consultancy regarding measurement technology, their core competence lies within the medical sector, such as lung function measurement, anaesthesia and hyperthermia applications. For this, the company is ISO13485 certified. By working closely with various universities and academical institutes, multinationals and small businesses they have built an impressive and very diverse customer portfolio.
Ready for the Tour de France
So, for all the athletes out there, it’s time to put on the finishing touches and get ready for 2018. Who do you think will win the Tour?
Check out the application story of quality control for respiratory products.
As a researcher at the PC2A laboratory, I deal with low flows on a daily base. The PC2A laboratory (PhysicoChimie des Processus de Combustion et de l’Atmosphère) is a multidisciplinary public research unit (CNRS/University of Lille), whose activities concern the characterization of the atmosphere and combustion physico-chemistry. Physico-chemistry in general is chemistry that deals with the physicochemical properties of substances. Bronkhorst instruments play an essential role in our researches, for measuring and controlling these substances in various researches. In this blog I will provide an explanation of our research and why we need mass flow control.
Research activities of the PC2A laboratory
Research activities of the PC2A laboratory are related to energy and environment and are conducted by approximately sixty people divided into three research teams with their own disciplines:
1. Physical Chemistry of Combustion
Our first research team is working on the physico-chemistry of combustion. The initial goal of this research is to understand combustion chemistry, for instance how are formed pollutants such as Nitrogen Oxides ( NOx) and soot in flames. We develop detailed kinetic mechanisms of the oxidation and auto-ignition of substances, such as: biofuels, hydrogen, synthetic fuels, biomass or coal. All thanks to our large experimental platform containing flames, rapid compression machine and laser diagnostics techniques.
2. Physical Chemistry of Atmosphere
In the research team ‘Physical chemistry of the atmosphere’, we study chemical kinetics of reactions of atmospheric interest. The two main topics for us within this discipline are:
- Homogeneous and heterogeneous reactivity in the atmosphere to understand the transformation of pollutant gases and particles (pollens, soot) in the atmosphere;
- Air quality with experimental characterization and numerical simulation of indoor and outdoor environments, pollution sources and impacts on health and climate.
For these experiments we develop laboratory instruments to characterize the reactivity of important species that are involved in the atmospheric chemistry processes, especially reactive species (radicals). To perform our experiments it is essential to know precisely the amount of gas that is offered to our laboratory reactors and then the concentration of the reactants in the chemical system. For this application we use Bronkhorst mass flow controllers, the EL-FLOW Select series. These instruments allow us to easily perform parametric studies because of their fast response and high repeatability. Moreover, consistency in flow is crucial for accurate measurement.
3. Nuclear Safety: Chemical kinetics, Combustion, Reactivity
Our third team is a collaborative team between the PC2A and the Pôle de Sûreté Nucléaire (PSN) of IRSN (Institut de Radioprotection et de Sûreté Nucléaire), working on issues in relation to thermodynamic and chemical reactivity of fission products. The main objective of this research is to validate the estimations of radio-contaminant products emissions in case of nuclear accident by modeling development and experimental studies.
Mass flow controllers for physico-chemistry
The PC2A laboratory uses multiple mass flow controllers of Bronkhorst. And this is not only for their specifications like a fast response and high repeatability. Also because of the easy operation of these mass flow controllers with the Labview software these instruments are ready to hand. The possibility to export data and moreover the flexibility with switching between different flow controllers, make Bronkhorst a perfect match for us. The flow instruments we use in the lab are the thermal mass flow controllers (EL-FLOW Select series) and the flow controllers with a low pressure drop ( LOW-dP-FLOW instruments).
Watch the video of the working principle of EL-FLOW select.
To learn more about the LOW-dP-FLOW, please consult the product page.
Let me start with explaining what demineralised water is. Demineralised water, also known as demi water, is purified water and is often used in laboratory applications for industrial and scientific purposes. However, also in your everyday life you will encounter applications with demi water.
For example for ironing your clothes with a steam iron, demi water can be used to avoid lime scale in your iron. But it is also used in car wash installations. A thin layer of demi water is sprayed over the car at the end of the car wash program to avoid dried up drops on your car. At the end of this document a few examples of the use of suitable Bronkhorst instruments are given.
Demineralised water versus distilled water
Demineralised water is water that has been purified in such a way that (most of) its mineral- and salt ions are removed. You can think for example of Calcium, Chloride, Sulphate, Magnesium and Sodium. Demineralised water is also known as demi water or deionised water. Demineralised water is generally considered different from distilled water. Distilled water is purified by boiling and re-condensing. In this way salt ions are being removed.
The major difference between demineralised water and distilled water is that distilled water usually has less organic contaminants; deionisation does not remove uncharged molecules such as viruses or bacteria. Demineralised water most times has less mineral ions; this is dependent on the way it is produced. Deionisation has a cleaner production and it leaves behind less scale in the installations it is used in.
A point of attention when using this demineralised water is the material of your instruments. Not all material is suited to serve as a piping material for demi-water; this also depends on temperatures that are used.
How is it made?
Demineralised water is produced via three main routes:
- Via Ion-exchange process using Ion exchange resins: Positive ions are replaced by hydrogen ions and negative ions are replaced by hydroxide ions.
- Via Electro-Deionisation also an Ion-exchange process takes place: An electric current is sent through the resins to keep them regenerated. The unwanted ions move away from the reaction surface to the electrodes.
- Via Membrane filtration: most times in multiple steps
To get the right quality of demi-water several stages of demineralization are necessary. The use of membrane filtration in this case has the advantage that in general no chemicals are needed to produce the demi-water (except perhaps for cleaning); the disadvantage is the amount of (electrical) energy consumed by the process.
Demineralised water – common uses
Demineralised water is used for industrial and scientific purposes. You can think of the following applications:
- Laboratory applications and testing
- Wash water for computer chip manufacture
- Automotive uses eg. lead-acid batteries and cooling systems
- Boiler feed
- Laser cutting
- Optimisation of fuel cells
- Steam irons and steam raising applications
- Pharmaceutical manufacturing
- Fire extinguishers
Health Risks of demineralized water
Demineralised water, which is completely filtered of minerals via (electro) ion-exchange, distillation, membrane filtration or other production methods, you would think that it could be used as drinking water.
However, as with all things, there are advantages and disadvantages to drinking demineralised water. The advantage is that the minerals that are bad for us have been taken out. There is a lot of documentation available about bad influences of certain minerals on our bodies. The big disadvantage of drinking demineralised water, however, is that demi water takes out also the good minerals from our body and causes a shortage so our health system cannot function properly anymore.
Summarised: demi-water should not be used for drinking water as it removes minerals that are needed for a good health.
Some examples of instruments which can be used for demi water
Coriolis flow meters, series mini CORI-FLOW
Ultrasonic flow meters, series ES-FLOW
- Thermal mass flow meters, series LIQUI-FLOW
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There is a huge vatiation in candy available on the market, each brand with its own taste, texture and appearance. These features are often part of the branding of the major confectionery manufacturers and therefore important that is done properly.
One of the machine builders who is specialised in equipment for the food industry, escpecially in aerating, depositing, forming and mixing of fat creams, chocolate and other masses, is Haas-Mondomix. I had the opportunity to visit them in Almere (NL) and work with them on a solution, containing ultrasonic volume flow meters, for adding additives into the main stream of the production process of candy.
Important topics when dosing additives
The equipment Haas-Mondomix designs for the confectionery industry has to meet strict requirements. Important topics here are:
- High-quality confectionery products; As confectionery products, such as candy, represent a specific brand it is important that the colour, texture and taste are always the same. So reproducibility in this process is essential. Good reproducibility will result in high-quality confectionery products.
- Efficient use of raw materials (colourings, acid and flavourings); Coulouring and flavourings are very costly agents, especially the natural variant. Therefore, a controlled and efficient use of these substances is very much desired. You will save on raw materials and it will also add to a better quality as well.
- Sanitary design, suitable for food applications; for devices in food applications it is important that they have hygienic design meaning a surface roughness ≤ 0.8 µm and no dead volume.
Application at Haas Mondomix
Solution for dosing additives with an ultrasonic volume flow meter
In the old days, if something went wrong in the candy manufacturing process, poor quality was observed by looking at the candy at a rather late stage, resulting in entire batches of candy that had to be defined as 'second choice'.
In close cooperation with Haas-Mondomix and our Bronkhorst Nederland office, we succeeded in finding a solution which can help Haas-Mondomix to manufacture even more efficient equipment.
During a test we used multiple ultrasonic volume flow meters (Bronkhorst’s new ES-FLOW series) to measure the amount of additieves - flavourings, colourings and acids - that were added to the main stream of the production process.
As these fluids are highly concentrated, only small amounts have to be added. These small amounts can be measured with the ultrasonic flow meter, as the measurement range is within 4 to 1500 ml/min with a precision of +/- 1% Rd.
ES-FLOW, ultrasonic volume flow meter
Depending on the type of candy to be produced, the amounts and types of colourings, flavourings and acids will vary. For one type of candy - a red wine gum, for example - these amounts have to be constant for the entire batch. However, the setup with the ultrasonic volume flow meter is sufficiently flexible to be used for another type of candy - take a green wine gum - after rinsing in between.
In the current process, the ultrasonic flow meter is used for measuring, and sends the measurement values to the PLC. Currently, this procedure is standardised within Haas Mondomix, so that Bronkhorst’s ES-FLOW devices are incorporated as standard option in Haas Mondomix equipment for confectionery manufacturing.
How does this ultrasonic volume flow meter work?
Bronkhorst’s ES-FLOW ultrasonic volume flow meters uses Ultrasonic Wave Technology to measure the volume flow rates of liquids. This technology has been developed in close collaboration with TNO (Netherlands organization for applied scientific research).
Read more about how a ultrasonic volume flow meter works in our previous blog: How to measure low flow rates fo liquids using ultrasonic wave?
See the application note.
Read more about our the ES-FLOW ultrasonic volume flow meter and its possibilities.