Fast, Flexible QCL Laser Technology Ideal for Food and Beverage Packaging Leak Detection

 Visitors to this EE365 blog have seen posts on Emerson’s unique hybrid laser gas analysis technology, the Quantum Cascade Laser (QCL) system. This fast, flexible laser is being rapidly adopted in a wide range of applications such as gas purity analysis in oil and gas, chemical processing, continuous emission monitoring and more.

One of the most interesting uses for QCL technology is in leak detection for packaging, and I recently spoke with editor, Wayne Labs, at Food Engineering magazine to discuss it further. Food and beverage consumers are very concerned about freshness, so leaks in packaging not only damage the package contents, they also injure brand reputations. But few comprehensive leak detection systems exist in the food and beverage industry. The Rosemount CT4215 Packaging Leak Detection System accommodates customizable heads for trays, pouches, bags, bottles and boxes, and can measure carbon dioxide and other gases used in Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP). In fact, the sensor can even detect leaks from micro-cracks in vodka bottles.

QCL lasers can create a laser beam with a very narrow wavelength that’s selected to be absorbed by the gas being detected. Chirping, or pulsing, the laser very fast, at less than 10 nanoseconds, allows more than one laser to be used effectively at the same time, enabling multiple gases to be detected. This flexibility is one of the laser’s great advantages and is particularly important in MAP, which often uses more than one gas.

While exact ROI is hard to determine since every application is so unique, manual inspection is expensive, ineffective and doesn’t detect 100 percent of leaking packs. The Rosemount CT4215 batch statistics and alert systems allow systemic defects on a production line to be detected early, preventing costly scrap product and even more costly product recalls. In the interview, we discussed how this technology serves not just as simple detectors, but as a major part of a wider improvement process.

Read the complete article and learn more details about the use of laser leak detection in food and beverage packaging applications.

Have you investigated how QCL laser gas analysis might work in your application?