NTS Optel usecase - optics experience center
The Dutch cheeses are delicious and well known throughout the world. But what makes the difference in taste and quality?
Application | Monitoring Curd firmness in cheese production process using Dynamic Light Scattering (DLS).
Market segment | Analytical and Life Sciences, Food & Beverage, Dairy, Cheese Production.
Business activities | Design, development and production of fiber based or standalone curd firmness sensing systems.
Did you know that?
- The Dutch cheese making goes back to around the year 800 before Christ;
- Holland is the largest exporter of cheese in the world;
- The Dutch produce 650 million kilos of cheese every year;
- On average the Dutch eat 14.3 kilos of cheese per person per year.
No wonder Holland has a worldwide reputation for being a cheese country. But what is their secret to keep up with the high quality and taste of their cheeses and still produce cheese at competitive prices?
Consistency and operational improvements in the production process are key. It’s about efficient and effective measurement of curd firmness and moisture content and fat and protein concentration levels. Now we hear you thinking; “What has optics to do with cheese production”. Well, NTS Optel not only developed an inline system to measure cheese moisture and fat concentration but also systems and sensors to ensure the curd is cut at the right time.
Cheese production efficiency and quality are the main incentives to introduce the application of an optical measuring technique for monitoring the first phase in the cheese forming process: the transformation of milk into curd. The optimum moment for cutting the curd is traditionally determined by an experienced operator who assesses the curd firmness by ‘touch and feel‘. Start cutting too early, or too late affects the cheese quality and results in a loss of valuable proteins. The process cycle is approximately 20 minutes and this relatively short time drives the need for automatic cutting based on a curd firmness. The curd firmness sensor was developed for this purpose.
The curd firmness sensor is small and easy to use in comparison to traditional measuring methods applied in most cheese making factories around the globe. Utilizing the curd firmness sensor enables cutting the curd at the right moment leading to significant improvements in consistency in quality and increasing efficiency and yield of the process.
The sensor uses Dynamic (laser) Light Scattering to quantitatively measure curd firmness during milk coagulation. This technique is also referred to as Diffusing Wave Spectroscopy or Photon Correlation Spectroscopy. In fact, it is based on the Brownian motion of the material that scatters light in an erratic way. The Brownian motion and thus the light scattering changes when the milk changes into curd.
The curd firmness sensor (CFS) measures true gelation strength using Diffusing Wave Spectroscopy. This advanced technique is contained in a small stainless steel housing with a widely used standard connection flange and a simple electrical interface (-Power over Ethernet or 24V and analog 4-20mA current loop).
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