Gases for the food and beverage industry are used across the value chain from production and packaging to storage and transportation. Gas purity is essential for quality and health reasons and trace impurity measurements are a part of many processes.
Purity of gases used in food processing and packaging is important for health and quality. Gas chromatographs detect a variety of trace impurities.
CO2 has a wide variety of uses across the whole food industry. As well as being used for fizzy drinks, CO2 is used in drying to extend fruit and vegetables’ shelf-life, as dry ice for goods refrigeration in transit, stunning animals before slaughter, as well as many others.
CO2 is obtained from a wide range of sources, but it is generally recovered from industrial off-gases with varying degrees of purity. Much of it is produced in synthesis gas plants such as ammonia/ hydrogen production, in breweries through the fermentation process, or, to a lesser level, combustion of fossil fuels such as natural gas.
The multiplicity of potential contaminants is a natural consequence of the variety of feed sources. They can constitute a health hazard for human consumption even at trace level, requiring the industry to control and monitor the CO2 purity as a quality standard.
O2 is one of several additional gases used in the food industry. Among its uses are:
N2 is of great interest to the food and beverage industry, owing to its inertness. It has a variety of uses in food processing such as chocolate aeration or as a protective atmosphere for food packaging and storage when used individually or in gas mixtures. Nitrogen is also used to replace air, as it contains reactive oxygen, to flush transfer lines to storage tanks for beverages or perishable foods.
Wine contains naturally dissolved oxygen as part of its fermentation process. With nitrogen sparging, the dissolved oxygen associates with the nitrogen bubbles and rise out of the wine. Further oxidation is prevented by using nitrogen as a flushing and blanketing gas to prevent air-based oxygen from coming into contact with the bottled wine.