Particle shape and size analysis

Particle shape and size can have a significant impact on many aspects of food, influencing processability and ingredient functionality as well as product taste.

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Particle shape and size influence many aspects of food, such as taste, appearance, stability, processability and functionality. Understanding this is a key aspect of optimising ingredient performance.

We use dynamic image analysis to rapidly quantify the shape and size of a range of product particles.

Particles are imaged by a laser and camera as they move through the analyser. The laser pulses at up to 450 times a second. Each time the laser pulses, the camera takes an image, resulting in silhouettes of the particles.

Particle dispersion allows a large number of particles to be imaged in a short space of time. A number of mechanisms are available to optimise dispersion, making the system suitable for a wide range of products. A liquid dispersion process allows samples suspended in liquid, as well as emulsions and slurries, to be analysed.

The sample is loaded into a tank and is pumped around the system through a cuvette.

With effective dispersion, particles do not overlap - so that each can be seen in isolation and measured effectively.

Two dry dispersion systems are available. Both systems initially disperse particles through vibration.

For small particles, requiring high energy dispersion, compressed air is used to blast the sample through the field of view. For larger particles, where less energy is required for dispersion, a gravity-based system is used.

The sample falls down a specially designed chute and through the imaging field. Particle shape can be measured by considering two or more measurements of size and studying the ratio between them.

Measures of shape include sphericity, convexity, aspect ratio and elongation.

Particle sizes from 2 microns to 30 millimetres can be measured. Size can be quantified in different ways, and the results compared with other methods of analysis such as laser diffraction.

Individual particles can also be picked out according to their shape and size characteristics. This allows closer interrogation of the data and provides further insights into the product, for example as to how the particles might interact.

This system can be applied to a wide range of products and to assess a wide range of issues such as quality control of mixes, assessment of products against specifications, and gaining a deeper understanding of products for development.

If you would like any further information about how particle shape and size analysis can help you please don't hesitate to contact us.

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