University of Birmingham spinout Rheality has been awarded funding by Innovate UK’s Sustainable Innovation Fund to develop its ‘acoustic fingerprint’ fluid monitoring technology.
Rheality was established to “realise the benefits” of a fluid-sensor system developed by Dr Daniel Hefft and Professor Federico Alberini at the University’s School of Chemical Engineering, with the core aim of reducing production waste and increasing production efficiency in the Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) sector.
The company’s ‘acoustic fingerprint’ technology measures fluid rheology – the viscosity of fluids and how they flow. This is important in production lines for liquid products such as ketchup and sauces that need to have a specific consistency to come out of the bottle.
The technology uses a pin that vibrates as fluid flows around it; an acoustic sensor that converts the vibrations into an electrical signal; and an Artificial Intelligence Machine Learning algorithm that analyses the signal and converts it into a rheological value.
The system is mounted on the pipe to deliver continuous monitoring of the fluids inside it, and can be calibrated to determine the presence of air bubbles or particulates in liquids, or to indicate the end-stage of a chemical reaction.
According to Rheality, this real-time measurement provides continuous monitoring, which can help to reduce waste as the alternative and common practice is to take samples and test them “off-line”, requiring production to stop while testing takes place. If the fluid has the wrong properties, often the entire batch has to be re-worked or scrapped.
Innovate UK is part of the UK Research and Innovation government department. Its Sustainable Innovation Fund aims to fund research and development projects over the next two years, to help all sectors of the UK rebuild after the effects of Covid-19.
Innovate UK executive chair Ian Campbell said: “In these difficult times we have seen the best of British business innovation. The pandemic is not just a health emergency but one that impacts society and the economy.
“Rheality Ltd, along with every initiative Innovate UK has supported through this fund, is an important step forward in driving sustainable economic development. Each one is also helping to realise the ambitions of hard-working people.”
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2023