Tag Archives: Measurement

Incubators

Incubators in General

Right from the point when human beings started to cultivate land they were strongly dependent on external influences. The levels of rain, sunshine, CO2 as well as soil quality defined the success rate of plant growth. Like plants, every organism has its specific requirements for optimal reproduction. Incubators are used to artificially generate an organism’s ideal environment. Even the ancient Egyptians learned that the rate of successfully hatched chickens increased drastically when they put the fertilized eggs in a big oven built out of bricks that was permanently heated slightly. Although in that case, only the temperature was “controlled”. The Egyptian egg oven can be considered the earliest incubator. But hatching eggs is only one application where incubators are used. Other important usages are the growth of bacteria, viruses and spores for research, diagnostic analysis or even drug production

“Egyptian Egg-oven.” Published in “The Penny Magazine”, August 10, 1833.

Facts & Figures:

India’s poultry industry has to expand from 2010 until 2013 annually by 12-15% to fulfil local demand only.

The average chicken weight doubled since 1934 and is now around 2.5kg.

The US chicken consumption grew from 22kg per capital in 1980 to 39kg in 2011.

Why the Need to Measure

Various elements need to be measured in order to provide an ideal environment for organisms to reproduce.

Temperature

For incubators that are used for chicken hatching, temperatures from 37.2°C to 37.7°C are ideal for incubators with fan circulation. If the incubator has no fan 38.8°C is recommended for best results. For bacteria generally 35°C is best.

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Incubator and shaker for growing cell cultures in liquid media

Humidity

For growing bacteria, high levels of humidity are required, the majority need 90%rh or higher. The widely known food poisoning bacteria “Salmonella“ only grows at 95%rh and above. For most moulds 80%rh is already sufficient to promote growth.

Humidity is also extremely important when hatching chicken eggs. Within the egg is a tiny air bubble that gets bigger during the growth of the embryo, but if the humidity level is to low the fluids that are essential to the final growth of the embryos are lost too quickly. A humidity level between 50-60%rh is considered ideal.

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Inside an incubator which is able to control humidity levels.

Carbon dioxide

In nature the CO2 level in a chickens nest is around 0.4% or 4000ppm compared to the surrounding air that has only 400ppm. Keeping the CO2 level in an incubator between 4000ppm to 6000ppm is necessary for a normal development. Especially in the late development of the eggs, the embryonic production of CO2 increases as incubation proceeds and therefore should be removed from the environment to keep the CO2 at a safe level.

Also in the research of cross-breeding or genetically modifying plants, a controlled CO2 environment is key to speed up the development process.

Philip Robinson                                                                                                       Rotronic UK

Monitoring Transportation

Rotronic has recently released a cold chain logger which can be used to ensure items are kept at the correct temperature during transportation.

tl-cc1_0094Rotronic cold chain logger

Transportation in general

One key aspect of today´s wealth in the modern world is specialization. So towns, regions or even whole countries focus on a few things they are really good at. This can be based on various factors; for example resources offered by the land, climatic conditions or specific knowledge that has been developed over a long period and has been passed on from generation to generation. As an example, Cuba provides brilliant conditions for the Corojo and Cirollo plants, better known as tobacco. Although smoking is quite popular among Cubans, their production of tobacco exceeds the local demand by far. On the other hand they lack other resources and goods. At that point trading, and therefore the importance of transportation, comes into play. In the case of the tobacco the transportation is not a simple task, since it requires a constant high humidity level to maintain the high quality expected from a Cuban cigar.

Tobacco-Fields-in-VinalesTobacco plants in Cuba

Like tobacco there are many products where special requirements for shipping have to be put in to consideration, in order to maintain freshness, internal integrity, colour quality or whatever other properties that could be affected by an inappropriate transportation.

Facts & figures:

A major step in the transportation industry was the international standardisation of shipping containers in 1955. This means that one container can be put directly from a vessel to a truck and transported all around the globe.

Today 28´000´000 ISO containers (20 feet) are permanently on the move, transporting goods from point to point keeping our economy running.

Every year 10´000 shipping containers fall over board.

0.16 Euro cents is the cost of transporting a bottle of Chilean whine to Europe.

Why the need to monitor transportation?

Various factors can have a negative impact on a product during transportation. Below are the most common parameters to be monitored to ensure product quality:

Temperature

Controlling temperature is the key in transporting fresh foods, where the rate of decomposition is reduced significantly by maintaining lower temperatures. It is also important as proof of an uninterrupted cool chain for frozen products or to ensure the effectiveness of medication.

truck_insidesthe back of a temperature controlled lorry.

Humidity

Monitoring humidity ensures that the growth of micro organisms in food and medications remains below critical levels. Controlling humidity also helps to maintain structural integrity of paper and cardboard or to avoid corrosion of metals during a long transatlantic journey in a shipping container.

Pressure

Apart of being able to reconstruct when and how long a parcel`s flight was, pressure is also en essential parameter for products that have to be transported in a vacuum or pressured chamber. This method could for example be used when transporting biological samples or hazardous chemicals.

Shock

To guarantee that expensive machinery, glass, works of art and other delicate products weren’t damaged during transportation, monitoring of the G-force in all three axis is the solution.

Rotronic-HygroLog-Log-HC2-P1-Universal-Humidity-and-Temperature-Data-Logger-Humidity-and-Temperature-Measurement---Large-21391770915

 

The Rotronic LOG-HC2 can log light, temperature, humidity, pressure, and shock.

Light

Light is a good parameter to determine if or at what time a container or package was opened. Also to ensure protection of light sensitive products such as vegetable oils, chemical substances or photo paper.

Philip Robinson                                                                                                       Rotronic UK

Measuring CO2 in a Greenhouse

CO2 in Greenhouses in General

CO2 is one of the key ingredients of photosynthesis, meaning it is essential for plants to grow. Monitoring CO2 in a greenhouse allows optimisation of plant growth conditions, resulting in more efficient plant growth and higher crop yield. Different plants need different levels of CO2 in the air to maximise development.

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Facts & Figures

One of the largest greenhouses in the world is in Almeria, Spain where greenhouses cover almost 50000 acres (200km2)

In the Netherlands, greenhouses occupy 0.25% of the total land area.

The Netherlands has around 9000 greenhouse enterprises that operate over 10000 hectares of greenhouses and employ some 150000 workers: 80% of the manufactured produce is exported.

Why The Need to Measure CO2

It is essential to monitor CO2 levels at all times because different plants have different needs regarding CO2. Before photosynthesis, CO2 is collected by the enzyme RuBisCO. However, RuBisCO is just as happy to collect O2 as it is CO2. In C3 plants, RuBisCO collects CO2 from the air as soon as it comes through the stomata on the leaf. This means that if levels of CO2 in the air are low compared to levels of O2, the RuBisCO will just collect more O2 and the plant growth will be less efficient. In a C4 plant, there is an extra step during which CO2 is ‘filtered’ from the air and passed on to the RuBisCO. During this extra step, CO2 can be stored, meaning the stomata do not need to be open all of the time, helping to prevent water loss. In the C3 plant, the stomata need to be open more as there is not such storage of CO2. A third kind of plant, a CAM plant, can only collect CO2 at night, as its stomata are closed during the day.

Tomato_leaf_stomate_1-colorStomata on a tomato leaf

It is important to have close control of the ventilation of a greenhouse to utilise CO2 to maximum effect without risk
of damaging plants. Generally, the best practice is to provide increased CO2 to young plants and parent plants regularly, and to all other plants for a short period during spring. If the plant is sensitive it is extremely important to have pure CO2, to prevent damage. Up to 1 000 ppm CO2 is estimated as a good level.

If the levels of CO2 are too high in the greenhouse, plants can be damaged. If CO2 levels rise too high, plants will close their stomata to protect themselves, resulting in less transpiration, and therefore less nutrition is drawn through the plant, slowing down growth. CO2 levels vary considerably over a 24 hour period. This is because during the night, plants can stop photosynthesis (in the absence of light) and begin respiring. this means plants will switch from using CO2 to producing CO2.

plantsWhen there is plenty of light, a plant will photosynthesize, but when light levels are too low plants will begin to respire instead

What is the Result?

If all plants of a crop are grown in the same conditions (including CO2 levels), the chance that all plants will be ready for harvest at the same time is increased. The annual consumption of CO2 in a greenhouse is generally about 5-10 kg/m2, only in exceptional cases does would it be higher. The effect, of using CO2, on profit varies considderably. For example, tomatoes and cucumbers can give 8-10% higher return when growin in optimal CO2 levels. Plants grown in a CO2 enriched environment generally produce greater biomass than other plants, particularly in the roots, allowing faster growth and resulting in stronger plants with an increased reproductive rate.

Philip Robinson                                                                                                       Rotronic UK

CO2 and Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)

Indoor Air Quality in General

The quality of the air in a room can greatly affect the health, productivity, and well being of any occupants. Previously the temperature and humidity of indoor air were considered as the most important parameters contributing to air quality, but there are several other factors which must be taken into account.

Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) problems are very often caused by gases or particles released into the air by pollution sources. This can be avoided by carefully selecting the materials which are to be used inside dwellings, offices, classrooms, gymnasiums, hotels, shopping malls, hospitals and in all en-closed spaces which are inhabited. But there is another source of air pollution, which cannot be avoided. this other source is people themselves. Every time a person exhales, CO2 is released. Inadequate ventilation may increase CO2 concentration to an unhealthy or even life-threatening level.

carbon_dioxide_3d_ball

CO2: made up of 2 oxygen atoms, double bonded to a single carbon atom.

The most important control parameters for a good Indoor Air Quality are temperature, relative humidity and CO2 concentration. If these values are used with an intelligent air conditioning system, an energy efficient air supply can be used to produce a high quality atmosphere.

Facts & figures:

CO2 is a naturally occurring molecule consisting of two oxygen atoms and a single carbon atom.

At standard temperature and pressure CO2 is a gas, invisible and without any smell or taste.

CO2 is 50% heavier than air and has no liquid state under atmospheric pressure.

In the earth’s atmosphere CO2 has a concentration of 390 ppm by volume.

The worldwide industry produces approximately 36 billion tons of CO2 per year.

Industrial activities are responsible for an increase of atmospheric CO2 concentration and thus for an increase of global warming (greenhouse effect).

Influence of CO2 on Humans

Only a small amount of the atmosphere is made up of CO2, the prevailing components are nitrogen and oxygen. The natural outdoor atmosphere CO2 level is approx. 390 ppm. Increasing this concentration causes several symptoms of poisoning, ranging from drowsiness at around 1´000ppm to unconsciousness and even death at above 10´000 ppm. Even if a  rise in CO2 concentration has not yet severely influenced the health of people, it may reduce their productivity, efficiency and well-being.

270px-Main_symptoms_of_carbon_dioxide_toxicity.svg

 

Some of the possible health effects

How to Measure CO2

The most common measuring method for CO2 concentration nowadays is based on a spectroscopic principle. Sending infrared light (IR) with a wave length of 4.23 μm through a gas sample. CO2 molecules in the sample absorb the light at this wavelength. an IR sensor is then used to detect any changes in the energy levels of the light after passing through the sample. The more C)2 in the sample, the more of the light that will be absorbed, and the weaker the IR signal will be when it reaches the sensor.

ndir-sensor_1

Example of an IR CO2 sensor

The sensitivity of a CO2 sensor increases with the length of the light path through the sample gas. Thus the sensor used in Rotronic CO2 measuring devices makes use of multiple reflections of the IR beam on the walls of the probe chamber. this means the small CO2 sensor (2.5 cm x 5 cm) has a measuring path length of 12.5 cm and is accordingly sensitive. This type of sensor is called a NDIR (Non Dispersive Infra Red) sensor. This means that a broadband IR light source is used and the measured wavelength is filtered out at the end of the beam in front of the IR detector.

Why the Need to Measure CO2

New energy efficient demands lead to more airtight buildings and ventilation being completely turned off at night. Intelligent HVAC systems must be able to adapt themselves to situations with changing occupants of rooms. One answer is Demand Controlled Ventilation (DCV) with built-in CO2 sensors. By using DCV, huge amounts of energy can be saved without any drawback for the occupants. According to a study of the UN Climate Panel 40-50% of world energy is used in buildings. Only the adoption of the EU Directive on Energy Efficient Buildings would result in saving 30-45 MT of CO2/year. As HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) is responsible 40-65% of energy usage in commercial and public buildings, a balance between comfort and energy saving must be found.

HVAC

A large HVAC system

One example demonstrates the evidence of CO2 controlled room ventilation. The exhaled air of a human contains up to 40´000 ppm CO2. In one hour a person breathes out 15 litres of CO2. Thus in a classroom with a volume of 200 m³ occupied by 25 pupils the CO2 concentration increases in one hour by 1´875 ppm!

Especially in wine cellars, breweries, the beverage industry and other industries in which CO2 may be produced or processed the constant measuring of CO2 concentration is absolutely vital to prevent a deadly threat to the employees. This is not only a rational procedure but is also enforced by official regulations in nearly every developed country.

Philip Robinson                                                                                                       Rotronic UK

Wind Turbines

Its been pretty windy recently, So wind farms are probably doing quite well at the moment. The biggest wind farm in the world, at the moment, is the London array, which can produce 630MW of power.

Wind Energy in General

The future is very encouraging for wind power. The technology is growing exponentially due to the current power crisis and the ongoing discussions about nuclear power plants. Wind turbines are becoming more efficient and are able to produce increased electricity capacity given the same factors.

Facts & figures:

There is over 200 GW (Giga Watts) of installed wind energy capacity in the world.

The Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) has forecasted a global capacity of 2,300 GW by 2030. This will cover up to 22% of the global power consumption.

WindPower
Converting wind power into electrical power:

A wind turbine converts the kinetic energy of wind into rotational mechanical energy. This energy is directly converted, by a generator, into electrical energy. Large wind turbines typically have a generator installed on top of the tower. Commonly, there is also a gear box to adapt the speed. Various sensors for wind speed, humidity and temperature measurement are placed inside and outside to monitor the climate. A controller unit analyses the data and adjusts the yaw and pitch drives to the correct positions.

The formula for wind power density: 

W = d x A^2 x V^3 x C  

d: defines the density of the air. Typically it’s 1.225 Kg/m3. This is a value which can vary depending on air pressure, temperature and humidity.

A^2: defines the diameter of the turbine blades. This value is quite effective with its squared relationship. The larger a wind turbine is the more energy can be harnessed.

V^3: defines the velocity of the wind. The wind speed is the most effective value with its cubed relationship. In reality, the wind is never the same speed and a wind turbine is only efficient at certain wind speeds. Usually 10 mph (16 km/h) or greater is most effective. At high wind speed the wind turbine can break. The efficiency is therefore held to a constant of around 10 mph.

C: defines the constant which is normally 0.5 for metric values. This is actually a combination of two or more constants depending on the specific variables and the system of units that is used.

nordex-wind-turbine-450-x-299

Why the need to measure the local climate?

To forecast the power of the wind over a few hours or days is not an easy task.

Wind farms can extend over miles of land or offshore areas where the climate and the wind speed can vary substantially,
especially in hilly areas. Positioning towers only slightly to the left or right can make a significant difference because the wind velocity can be increased due to the topography. Therefore, wind mapping has to be performed in order to determine if a location is correct for the wind farm. Such wind maps are usually done with Doppler radars which are equipped with stationary temperature and humidity sensors. These sensors improve the overall accuracy.

Once wind mapping has been carried out over different seasons, wind turbine positions can be determined. Each turbine will be equipped with sensors for wind direction, speed, temperature and humidity. All of these parameters, the turbine characteristics plus the weather forecast, can be used to make a prediction of the power of the turbine using complex mathematics.

wind-turbine-controlThere is a small weather station on the top of this wind turbine

The final power value will be calculated in “watts” which will be supplied into power grids. Electricity for many houses or factories can be powered by this green energy.

Why the need to measure inside a wind turbine?

Wind farms are normally installed in areas with harsh environments where strong winds are common. Salty air, high humidity and condensation are daily issues for wind turbines.

Normal ventilation is not sufficient to ensure continuous operation. The inside climate has to be monitored and dehumidified by desiccant to protect the electrical components against short circuits and the machinery against corrosion.

Internal measurements are required to ensure continuous operation and reduce maintenance costs of a wind farm.

Philip Robinson                                                                                                       Rotronic UK

Chicken Hatcheries.

As it is nearly Easter, I thought it would be a good idea post something related to eggs, unfortunately not the chocolate kind…

Chicken hatcheries in general

It takes about 21 days to hatch a chicken and during that time, it is crucial that the surroundings are controlled for it to be successful. Egg hatching farms transform the chickens into “broilers” or egg laying hens. Meat from egg hatching farms is the most consumed worldwide.

Facts & figures:

Approximately 49 billion chickens are consumed worldwide every year. That is 134 million every day.

Chicken is the most common type of poultry in the world.

100g of baked chicken breast contains 4 grams of fat and 31 grams of protein.

Sustainability of chicken meat increases by 20%, when using CO2 for modified atmosphere processing.

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Why the need to measure CO2?

Less staff required to run the breeding stations thanks to all hatching happening at around the same time. This means it is easier to plan shipments and know how many birds can be transported at a time. This results in less capital and reduced transport costs.

A smaller number of birds die during transportation, which results in more profit per shipment and less feed losses.

More efficient and cheaper feeding options, both through feed reduction and reduction in time.

Chickens_eating

Faster and easier to slaughter the animals using CO2, and there is no unnecessary suffering to the birds.

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Packing using CO2, means food will last longer in supermarkets and for customers once purchased. This means a reduction in food waste from expired food.

How does it work?

The fertilized eggs are placed in a chamber, in which CO2 levels are controlled, depending on what stage of development the eggs are in. Living eggs contribute to the levels of CO2 (not 100% of all eggs are alive), which means that you have to monitor the CO2 continuously.

It has been shown that during embryonic development, the supply of CO2 has positive effects on the health of the organism after birth. Control of CO2 in chickens in development has also led to a more controlled hatching time.

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Once CO2 levels insid an egg reach a certain level, the fully developed chickens start to hatch. When the chick has hatched, oxygen will be supplied. Once the eggs are hatched, they are sent off in trucks where the birds continue to develop during the transportation. To ensure the good health of the chicks during their transportation, the CO2 levels in the truck are controlled for the whole journey.

It has been found that a bird’s metabolism works slower at high concentrations of CO2. Controlling CO2 levels therefore means it can take less time and less food to raise broilers or egg laying hens. This means production will be cheaper for the companies, it´s also more sustainable to use less feed per pound of chicken.

The chickens are slaughtered after being knocked out with high levels of CO2, which only take a few seconds. This method is more humane than killing by electrical stunning.

Philip Robinson                                                                                                       Rotronic UK

Timber Drying

We recently visited a company which is involved in the drying of wood, and learned a bit about wood drying. This company had bought a temperature and humidity logger for monitoring their drying environment.

Timber Drying in General

Wood is probably one of the oldest building materials on the planet. But before wood can be used as a construction material, whether it for structural support in a building or to manufacture furniture, it has to undergo treatment to gain the required properties defined by the application in which the wood is used. The first and most important treatment is the drying process.

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAA timber frame for a barn.

The fastest and most effective way to drying timber is in a Kiln. Kiln drying is done in a closed chamber in which air temperature, relative humidity and airflow can be controlled to dry timber to a specified moisture content. The temperature for the drying is usually between 40-90°C depending on type, size and the intended use of the timber. There are many different types of kilns such as vacuum systems, traditional heat and vent type kilns and radio frequency dryers. The cost of installing and maintaining a kiln may often be prohibitive unless a large amount of timber can be processed. However, if the value of specific species is high enough, it becomes more feasible to kiln dry green timber.

Drying_process2Wood in a drying kiln.

Some other drying options timber include: Solar drying where the green timber gets put into a glass house. This option is more often used for drying small amounts of timber. For bigger amounts the Air drying option tends to be used more often. Both drying options are only controllable to a very limited extend since they strongly depend on weather conditions.

Facts & figures:

One cubic metre of freshly felled oak contains approximately 540 litres of water.

Examples for air drying times:

Softwoods: 25mm thick Scots pine that is stacked in April can reach 20 % moisture content by July to August if the summer months are warm and dry.

Hardwoods: 25mm thick English oak if piled in early autumn can reach 20 % moisture content in about 10 months.

A 75mm thick log of wood can even take 3 years to reach equilibrium moisture content.

Why the need to measure humidity?

Controlling humidity during the timber drying process is essential for many factors. An incorrect level of % Equilibrium Relative humidity (ERH) in wood can have the following effects on product and process:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen damp, wood is easily damaged.

Dimensional changes

A controlled drying process prevents the timber from unacceptable shrinkage after the installation. But since wood is a natural hygroscopic product it will always change its size to a minor extend.

Strength

Drying the timber below a water contents of 25 % to 30 % will maximise the mechanical strength. dry wood is nearly twice as strong and twice as stiff as green wood.

stess_moisture_plotAs moisture content of wood decreases, the strength increases.

Decay

After drying, timber maintaining less than 20 % moisture content is unlikely to be attacked by wood decaying fungus.

Preservation

To increase the effectiveness of preservative treatments. Many preservatives should only be applied when the humidity of the timber has been reduced.

Corrosion

Drying timber prevents the corrosion of metal fixings such as  nails and screws.

rusty-fixingsWhen wood is wet, it may corrode metal fittings.

Weight

Dry wood is much lighter in weight than wet wood. For many species, dry wood is nearly half the weight of wet wood.

Philip Robinson                                                                                                           Rotronic Uk