Mass flow instruments in fragrance dosing

Mass flow technologies are used to measure and control flow in a remarkable variety of low-flow liquid industrial applications – from flavor dosing in food and beverage to coloring in household detergents. While the specifics of these applications can vary significantly, the processes are united by a need for high-accuracy, precision dosing of low-flow liquids. Here we investigate the use of mass flow in fragrance dosing, an application responsible for the scents present all around us every single day.

How is fragrance made?

Humans are united by a curiosity for science and engineering as well as a desire to create and be surrounded by things which appeal to the senses. Even in the Bronze Age, humans were obsessed with applying scientific principles to produce pleasant smelling fragrances. In Mesopotamia around 1200 BCE, a female chemist named Tapputi created perfumes using the earliest known version of a solvent distillation process.

Extraction and distillation processes have certainly advanced, and now aromatic chemical compounds can be more precisely extracted from raw materials to produce common products like essential oils and liquid fragrances.

One common solvent extraction method utilizes organic solvents such as hexane or ethanol to submerge raw materials and dissolve aromatic compounds. An alternative method is supercritical CO2 solid-liquid extraction, which uses a Coriolis mass flow controller to feed precise volumes of liquid and supercritical CO2 through raw materials and extract the desired compounds.

Steam distillation is another technique that involves flowing large amounts of boiling water through aromatic plant material and collecting the resultant condensation. The fragrant oils are then separated from the condensation and the remaining water is often sold, for example as rose water.

How is the extracted fragrance then used for dosing?

Modern perfume consisting of scented oils mixed into an alcohol solution was introduced to the western world during the 14th century, and was very popular among the aristocracy and wealthy people to mask body odors. Today, pleasant scents are no longer exclusive to an elite few; instead, the extracted fragrances and essential oils are used to manufacture a wide array of consumer goods including cosmetics, perfumes, candles, and soaps.

Fragrance dosing can produce a wide variety of fine-tuned scents by using systems that mix fragrances and essential oils with both accuracy and precision. Such systems often requires a parallel series of high-accuracy mass flow controllers to ensure the correct proportions of each additive are mixed into the final product. Coriolis mass flow controllers are an excellent solution for fragrance dosing applications as they allow for precise control over liquid flow even when the exact fluid composition is unknown. This is extremely convenient as new fragrance and oil mixtures can be run through the same instrument without the need to recalibrate the device.

The ability to produce such high quality fragrances in bulk has made it so these pleasant scents are readily available for a wide variety of popular consumer products. Maximizing process efficiency and batch consistency are critical to ensuring high product quality while reducing waste.

Alicat’s CODA-Series of Coriolis mass flow instruments provides further unique benefits to fragrance dosing applications. These instruments have inherent insensitivity to external vibrations and disturbances from nearby generators or mechanical actuators, minimizing process disruption. CODA instruments additionally do not require annual calibration and are available in several highly customizable models. Please contact Alicat to determine the best solution for your liquid dosing application.

Fun fact: It is rumored that Queen Catherine de’ Medici of 16th-century France orchestrated the murder of her enemy Jeanne d’Albret by deliberately adding a poisonous perfume to a pair of leather gloves. When d’Albret wore the nefarious pair of “sweet gloves”, the poison was absorbed into her skin and death followed shortly afterwards.

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