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The Basics: NIRS

Updated: Apr 30

Welcome to Copacker Search Wisdom


Welcome to our discussion on Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS)! Whether you're already familiar with this fascinating technology or just curious to learn more, I'm excited to dive shallowly into the world of NIRS with you. From its applications in various industries to the science behind it, we'll explore how NIRS works, why it's important, and how it's shaping the way we analyze and understand materials. Let's get to the basics:


Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS) machines work by utilizing the principles of spectroscopy to analyze the interaction between near-infrared light and a sample. Here's a simplified explanation of how they work:


1. Light Source: The NIRS machine emits a broad spectrum of near-infrared light, typically in the range of 700 to 2500 nanometers. This light is directed towards the sample being analyzed.


2. Sample Interaction: When near-infrared light interacts with the sample, it undergoes various forms of absorption, transmission, and reflection. Different chemical components in the sample absorb light at different wavelengths due to their unique molecular structures.


3. Detector: After interacting with the sample, the transmitted or reflected light is collected by a detector. The detector measures the intensity of light across a range of wavelengths, capturing the near-infrared spectrum of the sample.


4. Data Analysis: The resulting spectral data contains information about the absorption of near-infrared light by different chemical constituents in the sample. This data is then processed and analyzed using sophisticated algorithms and statistical methods.


5. Calibration: To relate the spectral data to the properties or composition of the sample, calibration models are developed. These models establish the relationship between the spectral patterns and the target properties through reference measurements of known samples. Calibration involves training the NIRS system to accurately predict parameters such as moisture content, protein content, or chemical composition based on the spectral data.


6. Prediction: Once the calibration is complete, the NIRS machine can then be used to predict the properties or composition of unknown samples. By comparing the spectral patterns of unknown samples to those in the calibration model, the NIRS system can estimate parameters of interest, providing valuable insights into the sample's characteristics.


Overall, NIRS machines offer a non-destructive, rapid, and versatile method for analyzing the chemical composition, structure, and properties of materials across various industries, including agriculture, food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, and materials science.


The near-infrared spectrum contains absorption bands corresponding to various molecular vibrations, such as overtones and combinations of stretching and bending vibrations of chemical bonds. Different chemical constituents in the sample absorb light at different wavelengths, resulting in unique spectral signatures for each component.


The type of data provided by NIRS includes:

1. Spectral Data: This consists of a series of intensity values measured at specific wavelengths across the near-infrared spectrum. Each intensity value corresponds to the amount of light absorbed by the sample at that particular wavelength. Spectral data is usually represented as a plot of intensity versus wavelength.


2. Chemical Information: NIRS data provides information about the chemical composition of the sample. By analyzing the patterns and peaks in the spectrum, it's possible to infer the presence and concentration of various chemical constituents such as water, carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and other organic compounds.


3. Quantitative Data: NIRS can be used for quantitative analysis, where the intensity of specific absorption bands is correlated with the concentration of target compounds in the sample. Calibration models are developed using reference measurements to establish these correlations, allowing for the prediction of sample properties or composition based on spectral data.


4. Qualitative Data: In addition to quantitative analysis, NIRS can also provide qualitative information about the sample. Spectral patterns can be used to identify or classify samples based on their chemical composition or properties, even without explicit quantitative measurements.


NIRS data provides valuable insights into the chemical composition, structure, and properties of samples, enabling various analytical and diagnostic applications across a wide range of industries, including agriculture, food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, and materials science.


Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS) is widely used in ingredient validation and food and beverage manufacturing for various purposes:


1. Quality Control: NIRS is employed to validate the authenticity and quality of ingredients used in food and beverage manufacturing. By analyzing the near-infrared spectra of raw materials such as grains, spices, and additives, manufacturers can verify their identity and ensure they meet the specified quality standards. This helps prevent adulteration and maintains product consistency.


2. Nutritional Analysis: NIRS can be used to determine the nutritional composition of ingredients and finished products. By correlating the near-infrared spectra with reference measurements of nutrient content, such as protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals, manufacturers can quickly assess the nutritional value of their products. This information is crucial for labeling compliance and meeting consumer expectations for health and wellness.


3. Process Monitoring: NIRS is employed for real-time monitoring of various stages of the manufacturing process. By analyzing the near-infrared spectra of raw materials, intermediates, and final products, manufacturers can optimize process parameters such as blending, mixing, fermentation, and drying to ensure product quality, consistency, and efficiency. Rapid feedback from NIRS allows for timely adjustments to production processes, reducing waste and improving yield.


4. Allergen Detection: NIRS can be used to detect the presence of allergens in food products. By analyzing the near-infrared spectra of ingredients and finished products, manufacturers can screen for allergenic substances such as peanuts, tree nuts, gluten, soy, and dairy. This helps ensure compliance with regulatory requirements and protects consumers with food allergies from accidental exposure.


5. Contaminant Screening: NIRS is employed to screen food and beverage products for contaminants such as pesticides, mycotoxins, heavy metals, and microbial pathogens. By analyzing the near-infrared spectra of samples, manufacturers can quickly identify potential contaminants and take appropriate action to mitigate risks to consumer safety.


By leveraging the analytical capabilities of NIRS, manufacturers can ensure the safety, authenticity, and nutritional integrity of their products, meeting regulatory requirements and consumer expectations.


NIRS is used by many copackers and vendors for the reasons listed above, though not all of them have this machine in-house. If you want to use NIRS to learn more about a product or create parameters for specifications, let us know, and we would be happy to introduce you to a lab that can do so!


As always, Happy Hunting!


The CVL Team

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