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Experts develop new device for measuring viscosity

October 26th, 2011
by Tania

Manufacturers will soon have a new method of ensuring that their consumer products are the right consistency after experts developed a new viscosity device.

A team from the University of Sheffield has unveiled the design, which allows engineers to check in real time on how the viscous components of liquids change during a production process. It will therefore make it easier and cheaper to make changes to the liquid, whether it be ketchup or makeup, according to the experts.

The device uses a non-invasive sensor system which the liquid passes through, with information then being fed back along with a calculation of likely behaviours. A paper which talks about the innovation – a joint project between the University's Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering – has been published in the journal Measurement Science and Technology.

Dr Julia Rees, from the Department of Applied Mathematics at the university, said: "Companies that make liquid products need to know how the liquids will behave in different circumstances because these different behaviours can affect the texture, the taste or even the smell of a product. Measuring the individual components of a liquid's viscosity is called rheometry. We can produce equations to measure a liquid's total viscosity, but the rheology of most liquids is very complicated. Instead, we look at properties in a liquid that we can measure easily, and then apply maths to calculate the viscosity."

Professor of biochemical dynamical systems in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at the University of Sheffield Will Zimmerman said that the device has been made with an eye on conservation and following Ben Franklin's maxim of "waste not, want not".

Recently, a study into viscosity revealed that Albert Einstein's Brownian Motion theory needs a slight adjustment.

Results published in the journal Nature revealed that experts in EPFL's Laboratory of Complex Matter Physics found that the viscosity of water does not fully inhibit the momentum of water molecules acting on another object.

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Posted in Analytical Science, Chemical Science, Featured Articles, Industry News

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