Seed oil refining is a technique almost as old as human civilization, but the dawn of the fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0) means that we sit on the cusp of truly exciting and industry-changing developments. These have taken the form on online, real-time measurement of processes that enables control, and ultimately greatly improved efficiency and cost-reduction. Traditional measurement techniques such as pH and conductivity, however, do not work in oil based media; whilst techniques such as colorimetry and refractive index measurements don’t tell the whole story.
Here we present the calibration and use of a static optics FTIR spectrometer specifically targeted at seed oil refining. We provide a brief overview of the main types of spectrometer, their strengths and weaknesses and use cases. We also explain the calibration process for a spectrometer, and discuss the merits of different calibration use cases – namely partial least squares (PLS) for real-time concentration monitoring or principal component analysis (PCA) for more qualitative measurements.
We will also show the performance of monitoring total free fatty acids and fatty acid methyl acids in real time, as well as the ability to discriminate between the chemicals to better understand the makeup of the feedstock seed. We will also explore the other sorts of chemicals that can be measured using this approach (such as phosphorus, water, soap and glycerol). Lastly we hope to share the results on an online trial at a manufacturing facility to investigate the chemicals of interest during production in real world samples.