Taste-testing whisky @ProcessingTalk

A recent article from the journal “Design Products & Applications!

An artificial ‘tongue’developed at the University of Glasgow’s School of Engineering can taste subtle differences between drams of whisky. The approach could lead the way to better detection of counterfeit alcohol. In a new paper published in the Royal Society of Chemistry’s journal Nanoscale, Scottish engineers describe how they built the tiny taster, which exploits the optical properties of gold and aluminium foils to test the tipples.

Sub-microscopic slices of the two metals, arranged in a checkerboard pattern, act as the ‘tastebuds’ in the team’s artificial tongue. The researchers poured samples of whisky over the tastebuds – which are about 500 times smaller than their human equivalents – and measured how they absorb light while submerged. Statistical analysis of the very subtle differences in how the metals in the artificial tongue absorb light – what scientists call their plasmonic resonance – allowed the team to identify different types of whiskies.

The team used the tongue to sample a selection of whiskies from Glenfiddich, Glen Marnoch and Laphroaig. The tongue was able to taste the differences between the drinks with greater than 99% accuracy. It was capable of picking up on the subtler distinctions between the same whisky aged in different barrels and tell the difference between the same whisky aged for 12, 15 and 18 years.

Image courtesy of University of Glasgow

Dr Alasdair Clark, of the University of Glasgow’s School of Engineering, is the paper’s lead author. Dr Clark said: “We call this an artificial tongue because it acts similarly to a human tongue – like us, it can’t identify the individual chemicals which make coffee taste different to apple juice, but it can easily tell the difference between these complex chemical mixtures.

“We’re not the first researchers to make an artificial tongue, but we’re the first to make a single artificial tongue that uses two different types of nanoscale metal ‘tastebuds’, which provides more information about the ‘taste’ of each sample and allows a faster and more accurate response.

“While we’ve focused on whisky in this experiment, the artificial tongue could easily be used to ‘taste’ virtually any liquid, which means it could be used for a wide variety of applications. In addition to its obvious potential for use in identifying counterfeit alcohols, it could be used in food safety testing, quality control, security – really any area where a portable, reusable method of tasting would be useful.”

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E+H invests in analysis

Endress+Hauser has expanded its center of competence for advanced analysis in Lyon, France. The Group has invested two million euros in a new production facility and associated office space, in order to meet the growing demand in the area of advanced process analysis systems.

From Lyon, around 20 employees support Endress+Hauser sales centres across Europe, in the application and sales of advanced analytical technology, with a focus on project business and after-sales services. Already, ten Endress+Hauser sales centres across Europe have specialists on board to handle this complex field of activity.

Customer-specific manufacturing

The new 630-square-meter production facility will be used for customer-specific manufacturing and the assembly of complete analysis systems. Rounding out the facility are offices, rooms for factory acceptance tests and space reserved for future use. The adjacent 1,500-square-meter office building, which opened in 2017, is also home to the Endress+Hauser France regional sales office. With a total of 7,000 square meters, the property offers sufficient space to grow the location even further.

“The expansion of the Lyon location allows us to do an even better job of bringing our expertise in the field of process analysis to our customers,” emphasized Matthias Altendorf, CEO of the Endress+Hauser Group, during the dedication ceremony on 17 July 2019. “This is an important strategic goal for us and helps our customers acquire more information from their processes.”

Analysis portfolio expands

Advanced analysis provides immediate information related to material properties and product quality. Endress+Hauser continuously develops its analysis portfolio to provide online monitoring of quality parameters, for example through spectroscopic techniques. This allows customers to reduce time to market and optimize their processes. Customers in industries such as life sciences, chemical and food & beverage, as well as oil & gas, can benefit from Endress+Hauser’s advanced analysis portfolio.

Advanced technologies

The Lyon location combines the expertise of Endress+Hauser and its subsidiaries Kaiser Optical Systems and SpectraSensors under one roof. The Raman analysers from Kaiser Optical Systems are used to examine the composition and material properties of liquids, gases and solids and enable the real-time measurement of product characteristics. SpectraSensors is a leader in the field of TDLAS technology, using tunable diode lasers to monitor the attenuation of a gas at specific frequencies, which can be used to reliably measure trace-level concentrations of targeted gases.

3M sells gas and flame detection business

3M has announced it has received a binding offer from Teledyne Technologies Incorporated, to purchase 3M’s gas and flame detection business for USD230m, subject to closing and other adjustments.

Teledyne is a leading provider of sophisticated instrumentation, digital imaging products and software, aerospace and defense electronics, and engineered systems. The gas and flame detection business is part of 3M’s Personal Safety Division.

The business is a leader in fixed and portable gas and flame detection with products sold under the Oldham, GMI, Detcon, Simtronics and Scott Safety brand names. 3M will retain the Scott Safety brand name, which is not included in the transaction. 3M’s gas and flame detection business has annual global sales of approximately $120 million.

“After completing a thorough strategic review, we plan to divest the gas and flame detection business to focus on the other businesses within our personal safety portfolio,” said Bernard Cicut, vice president, Personal Safety Division. “Our employees have done an outstanding job and we thank them for their dedication to this business.”

3M’s Personal Safety Division is focused on applying 3M science to improve the health, safety and productivity of workers all over the world. The business is a global leader in providing Personal Protective Equipment and solutions to a wide array of industries including manufacturing, construction, oil and gas, mining, utilities, defense, healthcare, and the fire service. 3M Personal Safety offers an extensive product line which includes respirators, self-contained breathing apparatus, hearing protection, fall protection, reflective materials and head, eye, and face protection.

Approximately 500 employees who primarily support the gas and flame detection business are expected to join Teledyne upon completion of the sale.

The transaction is expected to be completed in the second half of 2019, subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals, while 3M’s acceptance of the binding offer is subject to the completion of consultation and information requirements with relevant works councils.

3M expects to record a gain of approximately $0.20 per diluted share from this divestiture.

 

Nokia Open Innovation Challenge

Selected start-ups working on solutions for the future of industrial automation are eligible to collaborate with Nokia and Nokia Bell Labs experts can  receive up to USD175,000 in financial support to help grow their businesses.

Technology start-ups with innovative and disruptive solutions for the emerging industrial automation era are invited to compete in this year’s Nokia Open Innovation Challenge (NOIC). Winners of this global competition will be provided with up to USD175k in financial assistance, and will have the opportunity to collaborate with experts from Nokia and Nokia Bell Labs to help grow their businesses by unleashing new levels of productivity for the industrial and public sectors.

This year’s NOIC specifically seeks out start-ups with disruptive ideas in industrial automation categories such as multi-robot collaboration, VR/AR driven human augmentation for industrial and enterprise use cases, digital personal assistants in enterprises, human machine / machine human communication technologies, edge computing, and artificial intelligence and related technologies.

NOIC Competition

Marcus Weldon, President of Nokia Bell Labs and Corporate CTO of Nokia, commented: “We believe that in the coming fourth industrial revolution, a convergence of operations technology (OT) and information and communication technology (ICT) will be the catalyst for wide scale automation in all industries and infrastructure – and our physical world as a whole. This will usher in a new era of productivity for many sectors of the economy. As we roll out end-to-end 5G around the world to deliver high performance local and wide area connectivity services, we are excited to connect with innovative start-ups, to allow them to come and collaborate with our experts, and for us to be able to support them to help grow their businesses and shape the future of industrial automation.”

The NOIC competition is organized in partnership with NGP Capital, a global venture capital firm, backed by Nokia.  NGP Capital has 14 years of expertise in evaluating, investing, and accelerating promising growth-stage companies from all around the world.

Bo Ilsoe, a partner at NGP Capital, commented: “We have met thousands of founders, invested in over 90 companies, and helped several all the way into outcomes like an IPO or merger/acquisition. In this NOIC competition, we will pay attention to great founding teams, who can demonstrate their deep domain expertise and prove they have the abilities to scale their business globally.”

Last year’s winner

The annual NOIC event offers the opportunity for pioneering start-up companies to showcase best-in-class products and solutions within the Industrial Automation domain. This year marks the seventh year of this global competition; the winner of the last similar competition was Spark Microsystems, a Montreal-based business that manufactures low power wireless transceiver chipsets designed for the Internet of Things (IoT).

For Spark Microsystems, CEO Fares Mubarak added: “We were honoured to win the NOIC 2018 competition amongst a stellar group of innovative companies. This recognition provided credible validation of our innovation from a technology leader and pioneer in our field, and had a significant positive impact on our employees, partners, customers and investors. We have already identified multiple collaboration opportunities within Nokia, with the help of the NOIC team, which is very timely as we are within a year of full production. We strongly encourage all start-ups to apply to NOIC, and expose their innovation ideas on one of technology’s highest stages.”

How to apply

Start-up businesses that want to enter need to submit their entries by June 30, 2019.  The NOIC competition’s website contains the complete rules and guidelines. Finalists will be brought to a mentoring event this autumn at Nokia Bell Labs in Murray Hill (NJ), where they will meet with leading innovators in Nokia and have access to lab resources to help refine the pitch for their innovations.

The selected finalists will then present their proposals to an international jury at an event located at Nokia’s global headquarters in Espoo, Finland. The selection jury will be chaired by Marcus Weldon and include business and technology leaders from across Nokia, Nokia Bell Labs and NGP Capital.

New Process Gas Analyser for CEM

A new hybrid laser based process gas analyser now introduced by Emerson Automation Solutions has the potential to reduce the cost and complexity of CEM systems. It requires no consumables and needs minimal maintenance.

emerson’s-new-hybrid-laser-process-gas-analyzer-reduces-costs-for-continuous-emissions-monitoring-en-us-5390018

In the midst of increasing compliance demands for emissions monitoring and nitrogen oxide (NOx) measurement in industrial applications, companies now have the opportunity to move beyond costly consumables and complex gas sample treatment associated with ageing, legacy measurement systems. The new Rosemount CT4400 Continuous Gas Analyser from Emerson is the world’s first purpose-built Quantum Cascade Laser (QCL) and Tunable Diode Laser (TDL) analyser designed to help plants reduce ownership costs and report emissions accurately in environmental monitoring applications. It gives simple measurements of all standard gases of interest, such as nitric oxide (NO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulphur dioxide (SO2), carbon monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide (CO2), and oxygen (O2).

Optimised for cold and dry applications running at ambient pressure, the Rosemount CT4400 analyser offers the benefits of QCL/TDL technology, including high sensitivity, accuracy, improved stability, and low-drift performance in a configuration that allows fast, easy integration into existing plant infrastructure.

“Our customers are looking for a better way to measure emissions without the on-going high costs or need for frequent calibration and complex sample preparation that requires NOx converters or ozone generators,” said Paul Miller, managing director for Rosemount Quantum Cascade laser analysers, a part of Emerson Automation Solutions. “The Rosemount CT4400 Continuous Gas Analyser gives them an answer to their exact requirements in a configuration they can just plug into their existing systems and be off and running – at a lower cost than previously possible. The reduced complexity of the system over what most companies are used to, results in higher reliability and analyser availability with a lot less personnel time required.”

Because the system can hold up to four laser modules, it can measure up to seven application-specific gas components simultaneously, providing great flexibility in continuous emissions monitoring systems (CEMS) applications. This simultaneous, multi-component analysis within a single analyser reduces the need for multiple analysers, and thus the cost.

At the heart of the Rosemount CT4400 is Emerson’s QCL technology, which detects and measures gas molecules in both the near- and mid-infrared wavelength range. The system employs a patented laser ‘chirp’ technique that enables the detection of individual gas species, free from the cross-interference effects of other gas components in the stream, making the measurement highly accurate and stable down to sub ppm concentrations. This high performance ensures operators meet increasingly demanding regulatory requirements, while real-time reporting provides critical insight into process performance.

Due to its purpose-built design, which produces enhanced performance at a lower cost, the Rosemount CT4400 Continuous Gas Analyser ensures reliable detection and monitoring of gases and allows operators to avoid costly regulatory fines or unexpected shutdowns.

More information on the Rosemount CT4400 Continuous Gas Analyser can be found at www.Emerson.com/RosemountCT4400.

Rosemount GWR complies with API 18.2 for Custody Transfer

High-performance version of Rosemount 3308 GWR Wireless Level Transmitter delivers enhanced accuracy that can be verified without opening the thief hatch, thereby increasing safety.

rosemount-3308-wireless-gwr-transmitter-2-singleEmerson has introduced a high-performance version of its Rosemount 3308 Guided Wave Radar (GWR) Wireless Level Transmitter that complies with the API 18.2 standard guidance for crude oil custody transfer from small lease tanks. The Rosemount 3308 is therefore said to to be the first standalone wireless radar level device to achieve this. The transmitter delivers enhanced accuracy – and also offers performance verification without having to open a tank’s thief hatch, thereby increasing safety.

“The API 18.2 standard places strict accuracy demands on level measurement instrumentation because any uncertainty during custody transfer can have significant financial implications,” said Christoffer Widahl, product management lead with the Emerson measurement and analytical business. “Measurement precision is essential in these applications, and the enhanced performance of the Rosemount 3308 delivers the high accuracy required to reduce uncertainty and comply with API 18.2.”

This new model uses an upgraded microwave module, which makes the Rosemount 3308 more tolerant to difficult process conditions and therefore able to deliver a more sensitive and repeatable measurement with high accuracy. API 18.2 requires level transmitters to operate with 1/8” (3mm) resolution and 3/16” (4.7mm) measurement accuracy, which the Rosemount 3308 achieves when set up in the new high-performance mode. This then enables it to achieve the installed accuracy of 1/4” (6.3mm) required to comply with API 18.2. In standard mode, the accuracy of the device has been improved to 1/5” (5mm).

Accuracy can be easily verified in just a few minutes using the Rosemount VeriCase mobile verification tool. This straightforward procedure does not require a tank’s thief hatch to be opened or any product to be transferred. [Opening the thief hatch can cause high concentrations of hydrocarbon gases and vapours to be released, putting worker health at risk, so eliminating this requirement is an important safety improvement.]

In addition to providing the accuracy required for custody transfer applications, the Rosemount 3308 also delivers reliability in both continuous surface level measurement and interface monitoring applications. It satisfies many applications across refineries, oil fields, offshore platforms and chemical plants, thereby providing a cost-effective standardised solution across an entire facility. The Rosemount 3308 is a top-mounted device that is virtually unaffected by changing process conditions such as density, conductivity, temperature and pressure, and because it does not have moving parts, no re-calibration is required, and maintenance is minimised. A wide range of process connections, probe styles and accessories ensure application flexibility.

For applications involving interfaces, the high accuracy of the Rosemount 3308 helps to maintain product separation by issuing an early warning if an interface is identified where there should be only one liquid. By eliminating this uncertainty and optimising product quality, the unit can help to produce significant savings for end users.

Wireless technology significantly reduces installation and configuration time for level measurement applications and can typically reduce costs by at least 30 percent compared with a wired solution. The Rosemount 3308 can be installed and operating in less than an hour – reliably transmitting data via a wireless gateway to a control system or data historian. Status information and device diagnostics are easily accessible from the control room, reducing maintenance requirements and enhancing operator safety by eliminating unnecessary field trips.

E+H reports good growth in 2018

Endress+Hauser’s business developed very positively across all regions and industries in 2018. The Group, one of the world’s leading providers of process and laboratory instrumentation, automation solutions and services, reports new highs in net sales, income and employment.

According to preliminary figures, Endress+Hauser increased net sales by more than 9 percent to over 2.4 billion euros in 2018. Exchange rate effects prevented even better results. “In local currencies, we grew nearly 13 percent,” said Chief Financial Officer Dr Luc Schultheiss. The family-owned company created new jobs primarily in production, research and development and services. At the end of 2018, Endress+Hauser had 13,928 employees worldwide, 629 more than the year before.

EH_matthias_altendorf“The solid development in sales shows that we have held our ground well in the market,” explained CEO Matthias Altendorf. “We supported our customers with more than 50 new products, solutions and services. We were able to break new ground through our digitalization strategy, as well as in the measurement and analysis of quality-relevant parameters”. The growth was spurred by innovations from across all fields of activity.

Good start to the new year

Endress+Hauser is expecting a somewhat weaker market dynamic for the current year. The Group is anticipating growth in the mid single-digit range, with earnings remaining at a healthy level. “The year has gotten off to a good start so far,” reported Luc Schultheiss. Assuming the business remains well on track, the Group expects to create several hundred new jobs around the world in 2019.

Endress+Hauser will present its 2018 audited financial figures on 14 May 2019 in Basel, Switzerland.