Appnote: Mass flow control enables chocolate aeration

Mass flow control enables chocolate aeration

Alicat products being used in the chocolate industry? Aerated chocolate is increasingly popular because of its particular mouthfeel; bubbles with chocolate.

So how are bubbles typically added to chocolate? The process involves high performance mass flow control. Bubbles are formed when high pressure gas is injected into liquid chocolate for aeration. The gas used is typically N2 or CO2. After gas injection, the temperature-adjusted liquid chocolate is then moved into molds. The pressure is then reduced and the chocolate allowed to cool. The pressure reduction assists the process by leading to an increased gas volume (and therefore bubble size). As the chocolate cools, the chocolate then solidifies, trapping the bubbles in the resulting matrix.

Alicat received an inquiry from a chocolate company looking for a way to improve their flow control for the gas injection part of the process outlined above. They had been using manual control, described as a knob type control valve, which was proving to be very inaccurate and inflexible. Alicat’s engineers suggested using our MCH-Series with the high accuracy calibration option to improve the process. The MCH-Series utilizes a dual side-by-side valve configuration, also called a hammerhead valve, rather than a standard MCRH-5000slpmsingle valve design. The high accuracy calibration and hammerhead valve combination ensures the most precise operation available (and therefore improved bubble formation control). The MCH-Series at the flow rates required, has an accuracy of ±0.4% of reading and ±0.2% of full scale. The maximum inlet pressure of this Mass Flow Controller series is 10 bar (or 145 psi), which is sufficient for this aeration process. This project would automate the skid and introduce a smart mass flow controller into the workflow with a standard interface for operator control on new and upgraded plant equipment and process control systems, called a Human Machine Interface (HMI). In this upgraded configuration, the operator could input a setpoint via the HMI, which would then operate the mass flow controller. The mass flow controller can precisely regulate the amount of gas which goes into the aeration tank by simple adjustment via the HMI.

The Alicat mass flow controller also makes the chocolate aeration process simpler because of its high steady state control range (0.01% to 100% of full scale). This allows one mass flow controller to handle flows that would typically require 2-3 mass flow controllers with lower controllable ranges (and 2-3 gas lines). Introducing an Alicat MCH series mass flow controller upgraded the process to be a more accurate, easy-to-use system. Doesn’t your aeration process deserve some love (with or without the chocolate)?