Optimising colour and turbidity control in sugar refining

In industries like edible oils and sugar refining, the process of making the product can be optimised and/or the product quality can be heightened, through the use of colour measurement.

In the past, this has either been a laboratoray measurement or has not been done because the processing is such that it never needs it, according to AMS Instrumentation and Calibration’s analytical product manager Peter Sims.

“What that normally means is that the product is over processed and the production is not optimised but it is maximised,” said Sims. “Optimising a process maintains product quality while lowering production costs, which in turn minimises the energy and effort used.”

For colour measurement there are some important examples. In edible oils, colour measurements are important both after the bleaching and filtration processes, and as a final quality check after deodorisation just prior to tank storage.

Applications will normally need to be correlated to the respective colour scales such as AOCS (American Oils Chemists’ Society), APHA (American Public Health Association) and Hazen. It is also needed in the control of chlorophyll.

The concentration of chlorophyll varies in oilseeds but it is an important measurement to know because large amounts of chlorophyll reduce the shelf life of vegetable and other edible oils.

Oils with higher concentrations of chlorophyll generally require an extra processing step where the oil is heated to break down the chlorophyll. Monitoring oil in the pipeline before it is sent to the bleaching process allows the highly concentrated chlorophyll oil to be diverted through the extra heating process, while oil with a low concentration of chlorophyll moves into the bleaching process. Using an optek dual channel colorimeter, chlorophyll concentrations < 30 ppb (parts per billion), can be measured in real-time and in-line with high precision and repeatability.

In the sugar refining industry, similar measurements can lead to greater control of the process. In the manufacture of granular or liquid sugar, multiple steps are undertaken to convert raw sugar to pure sugar. Within these steps, opportunities present themselves where automatic monitoring of certain parameters allows the real-time ability to optimise manufacturing performance; ensuring the highest product quality and the greatest overall yield. In-line measurements provide dynamic inputs to the process control system in the refining and bleaching processes.

“As we understand the sugar process, the sugar liquor that results from dissolving the washed sugar crystals in water will still contain some solids, colour, and other impurities that needs to be removed,” said Sims. “After adding a coagulant, the sugar liquor is passed through pressure leaf filters to remove the remaining solids from the liquor. While we could apply a scattered light turbidity sensor at the outlet of the leaf filters so that the sugar liquor stream can be monitored in real time to ensure filter performance and alarm when there’s a filter break, this is of lower importance at this site, so is best suited for a later date.”
The resultant filtered sugar liquor is then passed through columns of granulated activated carbon (GAC) to remove the liquor’s colour. In general, the less colour the liquor has, the better the quality of the product. For process control of the evaporation process, getting the right colour can enhance the process and improve throughput.

The sugar refining  industry uses a standardised measurement for the measurement of sugar colour called ICUMSA, which is multi-faceted.

READ MORE: Have your say about Food & Beverage Industry News

Simplifying it, ICUMSA is a measurement of the liquid colour at a particular wavelength, which must be corrected for turbidity. The Brix and density reading at that point and the optical path length of the colour sensor, are the final components of ICUMSA.

“The ICUMSA level can be around 4000-7000 when dark and 30-100 when clear,” said Sims. “By installing a dual-beam absorption sensor in the clarification stages, it is possible to measure the outlet sugar liquor’s ICUMSA colour, thus providing real-time monitoring of the colour removal process. And because the sensor can be configured to specific wavelength combinations, and use short or long optical path lengths, even the darkest solution or the slightest ICUMSA colour changes will easily be detected. For this measurement, an ICUMSA of about 200 was the aim.

“As you can imagine, the process has quite large lines. We had a client who produced short runs in a plant that was fairly old, where this application was installed in a suitable line that enabled a good measurement.”

Retrofitting into an old plant with short runs needed some deal of review and evaluation. One of the big objectives was to not create too much pressure drop in the lines. Through a series of steps an armature (flow cell) was selected that optimised the measurement, the pressure drop and the cost.

“This is an analyser and for all the right reasons it is in-line,” said Sims. “That created additional discussions initiated by AMS about service and validation. One of the optek sensor’s advantages is its validation capability. For biotech types of application it is ideal and external sophisticated. For colour and turbidity, a range of optical filters provide confidence in the measurement and save returning the sensor system for re-calibration.

The right installation is also necessary because it is no use having an on-line analyser if the whole sugar refining process has to shut if there happens to be a problem, or there is a need to validate the system.”

AMS advised that by adding a simple bypass, a drain and an upstream ‘tap’ where clean water could fill the line, the user would ensure that the system installed would give them long life and service capability without shutting their process unnecessarily. The installation went well, and after a training session the system was put online.

“Since the installation, some 18 months ago, the system has been rigorously tested and checked,” said Sims. “Repeatability and reliability of the measurement has been well proven and the output signals are used for control of the process. It was always envisaged that, once proven, there would be an expansion of this type of measurement. This remains the aim.”

Lightweight oxygen analyser for cost-effective quality control in safe-area applications

Michell Instruments has launched a new lightweight oxygen analyser to provide accurate and cost-effective control of oxygen from 500ppm O2 to oxygen purity in safe area applications.

The XTP501 Oxygen Analyser uses Michell’s tried and tested thermo-paramagnetic technology for highly accurate and stable measurements. These sensors are non-depleting and will last for the life of the instrument under normal operation which keeps the cost of ownership low since only minimal maintenance is required and there are no consumable parts to replace.

The analyser offers users a choice of ranges to ensure the best accuracy for specific applications. There are six available ranges to choose from: 0-1/21/25 per cent O2 and 20/80/90 to 10 per cent O2, which are suitable for a range of application needs from monitoring trace oxygen in inert gases to ensuring the purity of oxygen generated for use as an industrial gas.

The XTP501 is a highly stable instrument at ±0.25 per cent of span per month and accurate to ±0.02 per cent O2, making it one of the best-performing analysers in its class. Because they have no moving parts or liquid components thermo-paramagnetic oxygen sensors are robust and not affected by vibration or sudden shocks.

With a lightweight IP55-rated casing, the analyser is compact and easily installed. Suitable for indoor installation, the IP55 case makes it robust enough for most industrial safe-area conditions such as food and beverage production, non-hazardous installations and small-scale industrial gas production. It has an intuitive touch screen interface that is easy to use, interrogate and set up.

Why mass flow meters are important in fish farming

Fish consumption is rising. With the increase of the world population and the need for nutritious food, health-conscious consumers are looking for alternatives to “a nice slice of meat”. And they end up eating more fish or vegetarian food.

Specific species of wild fish are getting scarce in open water due to the impact of industrialised fishing fleets and overfishing. In a trend towards sustainable food production, fish farming is gaining increasingly interest.

Fish farming is the aquatic version of farming cows, sheep or chicken. For many years, humans have been farming food by having it grown in greenhouses, stables, or fields. Fish farming is heading in the same direction.

When people hear about fish farms, they might think of an aquarium, a little pond or a floating net. But in Norway, a major player in fish farming, people think on a larger scale. A typical fish cage near the Norwegian coast has a diameter of tens of metres containing 200,000 to 300,000 salmon. In the near future, these designs will upscale to one or two million salmon. In Norway, at the beginning of 2018, more than 3,500 cages for fish farming were floating in the sea.

READ: Multipoint thermal mass flow meters improve Boiler Air Preheater (APH) system efficiency

The country is expanding its knowledge and technology across the world, where people are interested in large-scale harvesting of fish in the sea – and maybe on land.

Salmon is a typical example of a fish that can be fish farmed. They need cold water – 7˚C-9˚C is what they like most, which is why this aquaculture is happening in the Northern Hemisphere, off-shore in the fjords. Salmon is a popular fish so there is a high demand.

In fish farming, aeration is of vital importance. In addition to food, the fish need oxygen that is supplied in the form of tiny air bubbles – aerated – to the water. But aeration has other advantages, too.

In the early days, the salmon suffered from infestations of lice. Since salmon lice had an impact on harvest, the fish farmers had to look for solutions. For some reason – maybe it was an experiment or it happened by accident – the farmers started to purge air from the bottom of the cage.

And they observed that the movement of the fish started to change. Instead of circling day in and day out – as salmon normally do – they started to move around the cage and became more agile. If the salmon are more agile, their muscles have to work more. This results in their meat being of better quality. At the same time, the fish farmers detected that aeration helped them to create a more thermal friendly water environment. With an advantageous temperature, conditions and amount of oxygen, this resulted in a decrease in lice numbers. So aeration had two advantages: improving the salmon quality, and reducing the unwanted lice.

Aeration of fish farms using mass flow controllers
The process of aeration is simple. The air bubbles can be generated by natural water currents (off-shore, down-hill), pumps, impellers, variable area flow meters or by mass flow controllers and compressors.

A compressor generates compressed air from the surrounding atmosphere, and feeds this to the mass flow controller for controlled aeration of the water in the fish cages.

To run fish farms that are remotely controlled and without much manpower, automation is needed. This includes automated feeding. When the fish are fed, the air purging needs to be interrupted to give the fish the opportunity to hunt for the food before it floats out of the cage. In between the feeding periods, the aeration improves the condition of the water and the salmon.

It helps that mass flow controllers are remotely controlled from the control room at land. The aeration is stopped when the feeding starts, and when the feeding is over, the previous set point will automatically return and the water condition is as stable as it was before.
Mass flow controllers provide a potential for saving energy due to better conditions in the cage. The accuracy of the devices is important. Every cubic metre of air saved by the device being accurate – faster control or opening of valves – is of direct influence to the costs for running a compressor. In stormy weather, fish farmers can reduce the aeration, but during a long dry period without water movement, more air bubbles are needed. So essentially, this accuracy and flexibility leads to a better controlled environment.

With Mass-Stream mass flow controllers, farmers have a robust instrument, which is performing well in the harsh surroundings. By the manufacturer’s Bronkhorst’s standards, this kind of aeration is high flow. Typical air flows for a fish cage are in the range between 600 and 1,400 litres per minute.

Mass flow controllers for other types of aeration
Mass flow controllers are suitable for other types of aeration in aquaculture and agriculture. If users farm salmon, they need to breed the fish, which normally occurs on land. Fish eggs and young fish are even more vulnerable to changes, so the environment has to be more stable than for grown fish. Depending on the type of fish, the balance of oxygen in the water is delicate and has to be controlled accurately.

In algae farming, CO2 gas is one of the food components for these species to grow, which needs to be supplied under defined conditions.

A well-known application of aeration is in food and beverage industry. Every soda or carbonised drink is a liquid purged with carbon dioxide gas. Related to that, when packaging food, the packaging is purged with nitrogen to remove the oxygen before the food enters the packaging, as one of the steps to prolong the shelf life of the food.

Bronkhorst is represented in Australia by instrumentation specialist AMS.

Modbus available on FCI’s line of compact thermal mass air/gas flow meters

The new Modbus option for the ST51A and ST75A Flow Meters represents FCI’s continued commitment to providing optimal thermal mass flow meter design and value.  They combine highly dependable surface-mount, lead-free RoHS compliant electronics with highly accurate, repeatable all-welded, equal-mass flow sensors.   Their no-moving parts design is virtually maintenance free and offers an exceptionally long life.

FCI’s ST51A and ST75A flow meters’ Modbus option meets the EIA/TIA-485 standard and provides mass flow rate, totalised flow, and temperature data. Transmission mode is via RTU or ASCII with standard MS (16 bit), standard LS (16 bit) or Daniel extensions (32 bit).  They’re ideal for use with single function PLCs, pilot plant projects or large SCADA systems or complex plant DCS systems.

In addition to Modbus, the ST51A and ST75A also provide dual 4-20 mA, NAMUR NE43 compliant, analog outputs and a 500 Hz pulse output. Alternatively, instead of Modbus, the instruments can be provided with HART, version 7, I/O communications.  The meters’ electronics are housed in a compact, rugged, IP67 rated, dual-conduit port (½ inch NPT or M20 metric threading) transmitter enclosure, which is available in aluminum or a 316L stainless steel version. The transmitter can be mounted directly to the flow sensor or remotely mounted up to 100 feet (30 meters) away.

The highly reliable ST51A, ST75A and ST75AV flow meters carry the CE mark, and are optionally available with Div.1/Zone 1 Ex agency approvals of FM, FMc, ATEX and IECEx.  Additionally, they have also been independently verified to meet International Electrotechnical Commission’s (IEC) standard IEC 61508 for Safety Integrity Level (SIL-1) rating.  With all these pedigrees and verifications, FCI is further able to extend a full 2-year warranty on these new models to all customers.

FCI’s thermal dispersion sensor technology applied in the ST51A and ST75A and flow meters relies on the relationship between flow rate and cooling effect for direct measurement of mass flow. Their flow sensing elements feature precision, platinum RTDs in small diameter, all-welded thermowells made of 316L stainless steel and Hastelloy-C tips to provide superior accuracy, fast response and long-term reliability.  These flow meters are direct mass flow measuring and require no additional temperature or pressure sensors or flow computer to infer the mass flow rate of the process media, which reduces the total cost of process flow measurement.

Model ST51A air/gas flow meter
The ST51A is an insertion-style flow meter for use in pipe diameters from 2.5 to 24 inches [63 to 610 mm].  It is specifically designed for flow measurement of methane-based gases such as biogas, digester gas, landfill gas, natural gas, and for air, compressed air or nitrogen. It is easily connected into the pipe via a 0.5 or 0.75 inch NPT compression fitting. These thermal flow meters measure from 0.08 MPS to 122 MPS with turndown ratio of 100:1 and with accuracy of ±1 percent reading, ±0.5 percent full scale.

Model ST75A air/gas flow meter
The ST75A flow meters are in-line (spool-piece) style designed for applications in smaller pipe diameters from 6 to 51 mm.  They measure flow rate and totalized flow of air, compressed air, inert gases as well as natural gas, biogas and other hydrocarbon-based gases which makes them ideal for burner-boiler fuel and air lines, industrial furnaces and kilns, chiller air flow metering, and dosing and gas injection.

Process connections options include male NPT, female NPT and ANSI or DN flanged.  The Model ST75AV includes built-in Vortab flow conditioning to ensure highest accuracy and repeatability in applications which lack enough straight-run. They feature a wide 100:1 turndown ratio and measure from 0,01 NCMH to 950 NCMH with accuracy of ±1 percent reading, ± 0.5 percent full scale.

Multipoint thermal mass flow meters improve Boiler Air Preheater (APH) system efficiency

Industrial boilers are widely used in electric power generation systems to provide the steam that drives large electricity generating turbines. All large industrial boilers are fired by carbon fuel sources such as natural gas, waste gases (co-gen) or coal, which are expensive and result in waste gases that must be treated to prevent air pollution and minimise global warming.

Air preheater (APH) systems recover the lost heat from a boiler’s stack gas in order to enhance the boiler’s efficiency. The heated air from stack gases optimises the boiler’s combustion rate or thermal efficiency, which in turn lowers fuel consumption.  Such systems all have one thing in common: They also depend on precise air flow measurement provided by flow meters operating under very high temperature conditions in dirty, hazardous environments.

FCI’s MT100 and ST102A multipoint air/gas flow meters combine state-of-art electronics technology with application-proven precision air flow sensors in a rugged industrial package designed for the most demanding hazardous plant and building operating environments. They provide precision, temperature-compensated direct mass flow measurement of air for highly reliable, repeatable control with low maintenance requirements.

All MT100 and ST102A flow meters have been independently tested and verified to comply with IEC safety directives for EMC and LVD, and carry the CE marking. Optionally available for processes with hazardous, potentially explosive gases and/or dust, they can be ordered with FM/FMc, ATEX or IECEx and other HazEx agency approvals for Division II/Zone 2, or Division 1/Zone 1.

Centrifuge control by optek

Installation of optek sensors at the inlet and at the outlet of a centrifuge greatly improves separation performance, reduces losses and improves product consistency.

The feed often has high variable solids loading. Separation efficiency can be greatly improved by installing an optek AF16-N or AS16-N prior to the separator. The separator feed rate can then be optimized based on real-time solids concentration measurements.

Flow may be adjusted to meet system requirements for optimized performance and prevent overloading or clogging of the separator.

Outlet (Discharge)
The separator outlet (discharge) is the most common point of installation for process photometers. Monitoring at this point can help to maximize the efficiency of the system. Some systems control discharge based on time parameters set from the previous run, which is only valid with an average constant feed load.

A more efficient approach is to control the discharge based on need, which can be monitored by an optek inline sensor. Using an optek turbidity sensor to control the discharge by need, the number of discharge cycles can be reduced significantly. This increases yield, ensures consistency downstream, reduces mechanical wear, and helps avoid “blinding” of downstream filters.

Typically for cell culture processing, an optek TF16-N scattered light sensor is installed to ensure immediate detection of lowest concentrations. An optek AF16-N absorption sensor is commonly used for higher density fermentation processing.

Solids Discharge
When measuring the absorption in the solids discharge stream of the separator, an optek sensor equipped with a small optical path length will accurately correlate absorption measurements directly to weight-percent. This enables accurate yield measurement and control of product quality.

Accurate dosing of corrosion inhibitors

In industrial applications, especially in the chemical, process and oil and gas industry, corrosion can be a real challenge. These types of industries are coping with demanding environmental and process conditions in production and operation. Prevention or control of corrosion by inhibiting often proves to be an economic solution.

A corrosion inhibitor system will add small concentrations of (bio)chemicals into the process. The effectiveness of an inhibitor system greatly depends on the correct injection amount, and can be influenced by the environmental and process conditions; so accuracy is crucial here.

Using a low flow control system containing a Bronkhorst (mini) CORI-FLOW mass flow meter can help you dose amounts of corrosion inhibitors more accurately. High accuracy and high turndown ratio is achieved based on pure mass flow measurement with this flow meter. It can directly control valves and pumps by on-board PID control and can be further optimised with PLC and HMI control extending both performance and flexibility.

Bronkhorst’s Coriolis dosing system approach enables real-time monitoring, control and logging of injection rates. This allows online checking of flow rates and instantaneous re-setting of the required flow rate. Asset management and preventive maintenance is supported with several active diagnostics.


Thermal mass flow meter launches with adaptive sensing technology

With the launch of itsST80 Series thermal mass flow meter featuring breakthrough Adaptive Sensor Technology (AST), the process industry’s air/gas flow measurement bar has been reset higher again for rangeability, accuracy, extended service life, reliability and application-matched solutions by Fluid Components International (FCI).

FCl’s innovative AST thermal mass flow technology for the ST80 flow meter features an innovative hybrid sensor drive. This patent-pending measuring technique combines, for the first time, both of the industry’s proven constant power (CP) and constant temperature (CT) thermal dispersion sensing technologies in the same instrument. Complementing this new measurement drive technique is a choice of four different flow sensor element designs to further ensure best installed performance, including FCI’s new wet gas solution.

When operating in AST mode, the ST80 measures in CT during start-up and through the lower flow ranges, and will then seamlessly shift into CP mode at mid-range and higher flow rates. The result is a best of both technologies performance level where the advanced ST80 meters deliver fast response with extended measuring ranges, at low power consumption to maximize sensor reliability and reduce instrument energy expenses.

The ST80 flow meter features FCI’s rugged no-moving parts flow element design, which provides direct mass flow measurement with just a single process penetration. This approach saves plant real estate space and eliminates unnecessary installation labour and other expenses. It also prevents the performance degradation encountered with other flow technologies, which require the addition of expensive temperature and pressure sensors to compute an inferred mass flow.

With no moving parts to plug or foul and clean, the unit delivers lifecycle cost savings over higher maintenance technologies. The result is accurate and repeatable mass flow measurement at the lowest total installed cost. In today’s complex process control schemes, the ST80 meter provides the accurate air and gas flow measurements essential for process consistency, quality, plant safety and environmental compliance.

Designed for performance, the unit is accurate to ±1 per cent of reading, ±0.5 per  cent of full scale and repeatability of ±0.5 per cent of reading. The turndown ratio is factory preset to meet the requirements of the application from a minimum of 2:1 up to 100:1. This meter series operates over a wide flow range; the insertion style configuration range is: 0,07 to 305 NMPS; the in-line style configuration range is: 0,01  to 3140 NCMH.

While a single calibration is sufficient for many processes, the ST80 meter can optionally provide two unique calibration groups. Depending on the application need, this feature can provide cost and time savings. For example, the meter can be calibrated for two different compositions of mixed gases or two different gases. This is helpful in processes that are seasonally affected by environmental temperature changes, such as wastewater treatment digester gas and landfill gas reporting or recovery systems.

A three-point calibration drift self-test feature is built-in standard with all ST80 flow meters. The tests, run at a low, mid and upper points across the flow range, can be performed on demand from the front panel buttons or programmed to run automatically based on day and time to save the user time and maintenance expense. The self-test is performed in-situ – there is never a need for the ST80 meter to be removed or retracted from process piping, or to suspend the processes’ operation. There are no unnecessary spares sitting on the shelf and shipping costs and lab fees for unneeded recalibration service.

The ST80 series features multiple outputs to interface with control systems and/or set-up or configuration devices. The standard ST80 meter configuration includes: dual 4-20 mA, NAMUR NE43 compliant analogue outputs, HART (version 7) and Modbus 485. Optionally available are: Foundation Fieldbus and PROFIBUS PA. All digital bus communications are full two-way I/O.

The easy-to-use flow meter is offered in three styles: (1) no display, (2) with display, or (3) with display and through-the-glass user programming buttons. The display is a best-in-class, backlighted information LCD. It provides users with both digital and bar graph readout of the processes flow rate and temperature, totalised flow, alarm conditions, diagnostics feedback and even a user defined label field.

The versatile flow meter is offered in a range of process connection, mounting and installation options including compression fittings, flanged and packing glands and with the transmitter/electronics integrally mounted with the flow element or remote mounted up to 1000 feet (300m) apart. They are suitable for a range of applications in pipe diameters from 1 to 99 inches (25 to 2500 mm) – from compressed air to hydrocarbon gases, single process or specialty gases to biogas mixtures and more.  The meter is available for media temperature service up to 850°F (454°C).  The ST80 transmitter enclosure is NEMA 4X/IP67 rated, selectable for NPT or metric conduit port threading and is available in both aluminium and stainless steel

The ST80 can be ordered for either 24 Vdc or AC input powering. The 24 Vdc unit is a fully isolated DC supply that operates over a wide 19.2 Vdc to 28.8 Vdc range. The AC powered unit will operate from 85 to 265 Vac to ensure universal operation throughout the world. As with all FCI thermal flow meters, the ST80 meter requires less than 10 Watts maximum power, which is typically half that of other thermal flow meters, which minimizes plant energy cost and enhances the service life of the meter.

The unit features global HazEx agency safety approvals for potentially dangerous environment installations. FCI products undergo rigorous agency testing and obtain their approvals on the entire instrument, not just the enclosure. Approvals include: FM, FMc, ATEX, IECEx, and the meter is CE marked. CPA, NEPSI, EAC (TR CU) and CRN approvals have been submitted and are pending.  The ST80 meter also has been independently evaluated to meet and comply as a SIL 1 device.

Robust mass flow meters and controllers for gases

MASS-Stream instruments operate on the basis of direct through-flow measurement in accordance with the constant temperature anemometer principle. They contain no moving parts and the measured gases pass the two stainless-steel sensor probes directly, without bypass. As a result, the gases are unhindered on their flow path, making the series suitable for applications with low pressure loss, as well as less sensitive to moisture and particulate contamination than thermal mass-flow instruments with a bypass sensor.

The electronics casing has a robust design with an IP65 level of protection (dustproof and splash waterproof). The mass flow meters and controllers can be supplied with an optional integrated multifunctional display. On the new D-6390 model, the maximum measuring range has been expanded to 10,000 ln/min air equivalent.

Analogue I/O signals as well as an RS232 interface are provided by default. In addition, an interface with DeviceNet, ProfiBUS DP, Modbus or Flow-BUS protocols can be integrated. Typical applications include gas consumption measurements, aeration and purging processes or natural gas/biogas applications.

Fast and precise batch-dosing with Cori-Fill

Nowadays, consumers are increasingly critical when it comes to healthy food and because of this, usage of natural products and ingredients is coming more into the consumer’s focus. Therefore, food and beverage producers worldwide have to react to fulfill the consumer and market needs.

Additive dosing
Unfortunately, natural ingredients are more expensive and harder to obtain in comparison to artificial or nature identical ingredients. So besides higher costs, important features for quality control must be considered. Reliability and reproducibility of the dosing method are important and often government-certified materials have to be used.

For most manufacturers, a variation in taste and colour is not acceptable.
Just have a look at the confectionery from the well-known brands; all lolly bags in supermarkets have the same colour and taste. This results in high requirements for guaranteeing the same product composition for every batch produced.
To fulfill the customer – and quality control requirements, as well as cost efficiency issues, it is necessary to redefine production processes.

Bronkhorst has developed a batch-dosing technology for fast and precise batch-dosing applications like additive dosing for confectionery  applications.

Batch-dosing technology
The batch dosing technology, called Cori-Fill, is firmware that is integrated in all Bronkhorst Coriolis and ultrasonic flow meters and controllers. The technology features an integrated batch counter function with functionality to directly control shut-off valves, proportional valves or (gear) pumps. It’s a time and cost-efficient alternative to the more traditional gravimetric method.

This dosing technology allows dosing of small amounts of liquid additives with only a minimum of tolerance.

The firmware is equipped with a “learning function” to correct even the smallest tolerances automatically (e.g. during start-up of the instrument or change of supply batches). The setup is customised to fulfill all requirements of the production – it can be easily integrated in already existing production sites.

Additive dosing with a Coriolis flow meter
Besides the integrated batch dosing technology, all Bronkhorst Coriolis mass flow meters are equipped with an on-board PID-control for the direct activation of additional actuators – like valves and pumps – enabling fast communication and therefore enhances speed and quality of the control. The dosing speed is kept absolutely stable, even with long-term usage.

With a Coriolis instrument, the direct mass flow is measured (e.g. kg/h, g/h, g/min etc.). Furthermore, next to flow and temperature, the density can be measured as well. This can be monitored as an extra quality parameter.

Besides the Coriolis mass flow meter, another product in the Bronkhorst product portfolio designed for dosing applications is the ES-FLOW ultrasonic flow meter for measuring low-volume flows of liquids.

Similar to the Coriolis instruments, these flow meters comprise the batch-dosing firmware and on-board PID control. The hygienic design, namely a self-drainable straight sensor tube, an adequate surface roughness and the absence of any dead volume, make it suitable for the food and beverage industries.

This volume flow meter uses an innovative ultrasonic wave technology that can measure the flow.

Due to the integrated dosing technology in the ultrasonic or Coriolis flow meters, it is possible to dose expensive liquids like natural flavours, fragrances, colourings or acidifiers with a great reproducibility and accuracy to avoid production fails and unwanted waste of ingredients.

Both the Coriolis and ultrasonic instruments have their own specific characteristics.
The Coriolis instruments are more accurate (0.2 per cent of reading against 1 per cent of reading of the ultrasonic) but the ultrasonic has a more hygienic design (straight sensor tube, better surface roughness, no dead volume and therefore easier to clean).

Free software tools available for Bronkhorst Coriolis and Ultrasonic flow meters.
Various software tools are available to support the operation of these instruments. These software tools are suitable for operation by personal computers and available free of charge. Typical functions of this software include:

• Re-ranging the instruments
The Coriolis and ultrasonic instruments are linear, hence the instruments can be rescaled at any desired value within the specifications of the instrument.
• Optimising proportional-integral-derivative (PID) controller settings These flow meters and controllers have an integrated PID controller. Therefore, it is possible to control valves and pumps directly. With the software it is possible to optimise control settings to personal preferences and save them. This can be useful if users would like to use the same instrument for multiple processes.
• Printing a hardcopy of graphs
Share your results with colleagues and/or customers.
• Data logging to comma separated files
All parameters can be logged; therefore, you will have good traceability of your process. This is useful when it comes to quality assurance.
• Batch counter settings
The Coriolis and ultrasonic instruments are equipped with high-performance, batch-dosing technology. The counter function ensures that the actuator will react as soon as the batch has been reached. Normally, several components would be needed to achieve this. The integrated batch technology offers this functionality in one assembly without the need of additional hardware or complex programming.

The operating principle of a Coriolis flow meter is basic but effective. The flow meter contains a tube, which is energised by a fixed vibration.

When a fluid (gas or liquid) passes through this tube the mass flow momentum will cause a change in the tube vibration, the tube will twist resulting in a phase shift. This phase shift can be measured, and a linear output derived proportional to flow.

As this principle measures mass flow independent of what is within the tube, it can be directly applied to any fluid flowing through it – liquid or gas – whereas thermal mass flow meters are dependent of the physical properties of the fluid.

Furthermore, in parallel with the phase shift in frequency between inlet and outlet, it is also possible to measure the actual change in natural frequency.

This change in frequency is in direct proportion to the density of the fluid – and a further signal output can be derived. Having measured both the mass flow rate and the density, it is now possible to derive the volume flow rate.

The operation of Bronkhorst ES-FLOW flow meters is based on the propagation of ultrasound waves inside a small, straight sensor tube with an inner diameter of 1.3mm, without obstructions or dead spaces.

At the outer surface of the sensor, tube multiple transducer discs are located, which create ultrasonic sound waves by using radial oscillation.

Every transducer can send and receive, therefore all up- and down-stream combinations are recorded and processed. By accurately measuring the time difference between the recordings (nanosecond range) the flow velocity and speed of sound is calculated.
Knowing these parameters and the exact tube cross-section, the ES-FLOW ultrasonic flow meter is able to measure liquid volume flows.

The distinctive character of this flow meter is that it is capable to measure the actual speed of sound, meaning that the technology is liquid independent and calibration per fluid is not necessary.

Next to that, the speed of sound can be used as an indicator of the type of fluid present in the flow meter.

Titanium filters strengthen winery production

South Australian company, Advanced Material Solutions (AMS) began commissioning their first commercial units last month and plans to ramp up its workforce from 26 to more than 200 to cater for increasing global demand.

AMS Filtration managing director Gilbert Erskine said the robust titanium membranes were so strong that they could run 24-hours a day for a week while polymeric (plastic) or ceramic filters could spend 30 per cent of their time in cleaning modes, which often included chemicals.

He said his Viti-flow system could be easily cleaned in minutes with hot water and could extract solids up to 80 per cent, compared with about 10 per cent for many traditional membranes.

“The difference between 10 per cent solids and 80 per cent solids would be at least a 7 per cent increase in the product you can put in a bottle – that’s seven litres in every 100,” Erskine said.

“From when a tonne of grapes came in to when it’s ready for the bottle it’s been through the filtration process several times and each time we can capture that extra 7 per cent that would normally go down the drain so that’s payback right away.”

The system is scalable to suit all sizes of wineries, with the bigger units installed at major Australian wineries so far featuring four sets of membranes capable of filtering 35,000-40,000 litres an hour. They produce clean filtrate at less than 1NTU and solids of up to 80 per cent.

Based at Lonsdale in Adelaide’s southern suburbs, AMS Filtration has been in business since 1985 and has had a long affiliation with the wine industry.

It started out making stainless steel fittings, heat exchangers and refrigeration plants for wineries before experimenting with polymeric, ceramic and stainless steel filter membranes.

The stainless steel filters were the most effective but also the most expensive and they were eventually set up in Indonesia to service the palm oil industry, where they proved more profitable.

After many years of experimentation and collaboration with Australian universities, the company developed the titanium membranes and has been secretly trialling the technology with industry partners for the past few years.

“It’s been a 30-year journey but it is very difficult to do, titanium itself is very difficult to work with and it’s taken us a long time and many mistakes,” Erskine said.

“Titanium is very expensive – it’s much more expensive than stainless steel but due to its properties we’ve been able to make it much, much thinner and make the capillary size much smaller than traditional stainless steel so we’ve reduced the weight of the membrane and just by reducing that weight it compensates for the high cost raw material.

“We had a good name in the wine industry so it seemed that the wine industry was where we should launch our filter.”

AMS Filtration exhibited at the 2018 Unified Wine & Grape Symposium in California in January and took orders from American wineries without them even seeing the filters in action. Erskine will return to the US next month to follow up with major wineries that made inquiries at the symposium – the largest wine show of its kind in the Americas.

Erskine said he was confident his titanium membrane filters would eventually be sold almost everywhere wine was made.

“We are talking with Portugal at the moment, we’ve already got orders from New Zealand,” he said.

“We’ve put a salesman in New Zealand and we intend on having a sales force globally so we’ll open offices in South America, North America, Europe and we will definitely have these filters right around the world.

“Right now there’s 26 of us – I’ve already advised three more people to start and we envisage there’ll be over 200 people here within three years.

“We are a tiny little company so we are trying to hammer along as fast as we can go but as we get a little bit stronger we will increase our capacity and we’ll just keep doing that to whatever size we need to be.”

South Australia is consistently responsible for about 50 per cent of Australia’s annual wine production and is home to the world-renowned regions of Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale and global brands Penfolds, Jacob’s Creek, Hardys Wines and Wolf Blass.

Erskine said the AMS Filtration system also improved quality by reducing wine “bruising” and the risk of taint because of its rigorous cleaning system at water temperatures of up to 90 degrees.

He said the micron rating of the titanium membrane could also be adjusted to 0.1 microns to filter out e coli or bacteria, 0.2 for standard white wine, 0.4 – 0.45 for red wine or larger for fortifieds.

“We have the ability to change that micron and again that comes down to the strength of the titanium because as you go up in pore size you are traditionally weakening the support structure but titanium can withstand it.

“There are people claiming to make titanium membranes but there is no one else in the world that we know of producing small pore titanium membranes in commercial quantities.”

AMS Filtration is also exploring systems for a range of other industries including beer, meat processing and water management.

“We wanted to focus on wineries first because we have a history in the wine industry but as other opportunities have come up we’ve taken them,” Erskine said.

“The sky is the limit, the filtration market is absolutely enormous and even if we ended up with a very small percentage of that you’d be talking hundreds of employees.”