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Process understanding and monitoring: A glimpse into data strategies for miniaturized NIR spectrometers



BackgroundThe implementation of process analytical technologies (PAT) has gained attention since 2004 when its formal introduction through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration was introduced. Manufacturers that need to evaluate the employment of new monitoring systems could face different challenges: identification of suitable sensors, verification of data meaning, evaluation of several statistical strategies to obtain insights about data and achieve process understanding and finally, the actual possibilities for monitoring. Kefir fermentations were chosen as an example because of the chemical and physical transformations that occurred during the process, which could be common to several other fermentation processes. In order to pave the way for monitoring establish the information contained in the data and find the right tools for extracting them is of extreme importance. Strategies to identify different experimental conditions in the spectra acquired with a miniaturized NIR (1350-2550 nm) during process occurrence were addressed.ResultsThe study aims to offer insights into good practices and steps to pave the way for process monitoring with handheld NIR data. The main aspects of interest for batch processes in preliminary evaluations were investigated and discussed. On the one hand, process understanding and, on the other, the possibilities for process monitoring and endpoint determination were examined. The combination of different statistical tools allowed the extraction of information from the data and the identification of the link between them and the chemical and physical changes during the process. In addition, insights into the spectra characteristics in the studied spectroscopic range for kefir fermentation were reported.SignificanceThe capabilities for miniaturized NIR spectra to represent and statistical strategies to characterize different experimental conditions in a real case fermentation occurrence were proved. The strengths and limitations of some of the common approaches to catch changes in fermentation condition were highlighted. For the various statistical approaches, the chances offered in the research and development stages and to set the scene for monitoring and end-point detection were explored.

Published in: 
Food & Beverages
Date of Publication: 
October 10, 2023
Giulia Gorla / Alberto Ferrer / Barbara Giussani
Università degli Studi dell’Insubria / Universitat Politècnica de València / Università degli Studi dell’Insubria
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