The EU-funded MUSE-TECH project combined three different sensors into one tool.
Predictive process control would see in-process raw materials checked in real time and compositional variations or problems dealt with during manufacturing.
Photoacoustic Spectroscopy, Quasi Imaging UV-Vis Spectrometry and Distributed Temperature Sensing were joined in a Multi Sensor Device (MSD), for real-time monitoring (on-line or in-line) of parameters associated with the quality and the chemical safety of raw and in-process materials.
The consortium included IRTA, Campden BRI, VTT, University of Strathclyde, Peacock Technology, Gasera and Nilma.
Conventional process control strategies see food tested at the end of the process, and batch failures and reworks are frequent.
The MSD devices were built and tested at pilot plant and industrial level in bread making, fried potato chips and beer production.
Distributed Temperature Sensing (DTS) proved robust for all case studies, allowing accurate monitoring of temperature profiles under harsh environments such as during dough fermentation.
Quasi Imaging Visible-Near Infrared (QIVN) gathered data simultaneously from different points of the process and a Photoacoustic Spectroscopy (PAS) sensor was capable of simultaneously monitoring CO2, ethanol and humidity during baking.
Raw data gathered by the MSD was processed in real time using statistical tools and made available to end users.
The project partners said further R&D is needed to develop a commercially viable MSD, with a focus on the design of probes to monitor dough during mixing and improving the PAS sensor for frying and beer production.