Here at Medallion Labs, we offer 19 physical tests, including Microtrac testing. It is one of three tests that is devoted to particle size distribution. The other tests include Particle Size Distribution (Alpine Granulation) Test and Particle Size Distribution (Rotap) Test).
We use Microtrac testing to determine particle sizes within a food sample via laser diffraction. Microtrac testing can be requested and completed in conjunction with other Medallion Lab tests, or it can be conducted on its own. Like all food testing requests, the best solution and testing needs are determined on a case-by-case basis.
Particle testing is commonly used for food products such as:
- Ground or granular materials like flour
- Homogenized materials like emulsions
- Pastes like nut butter
Microtrac testing identifies the size and disbursement of particles that are known to be present in a sample. It does not, however, determine if particles are present or how many particles there are in a sample. Those results require a testing method not currently offered by Medallion Labs.
How Microtrac Testing Works
To begin a Microtrac test, food samples are passed through the analyzer in a carrier fluid. The fluid is typically water or isopropyl alcohol. Sometimes we may also use compressed air. The sample must remain stable when saturated and wettable (separated into individual particles) in fluid. To work properly, Medallion Labs must be able to liberate a sample’s particles from the matrix. For example, nut particles in almond butter need to be separated from the oil, so they are not stuck together when tested.
Microtrac testing can be used to:
- Confirm proper mixture ratios
- Process control of milling or other comminution
- Process control for creation of stable emulsions
- Troubleshoot processes or changes in materials
- Determine how a change in particle size can change how a sample conveys in a system
- Understand how different particle sizes can be used to show blending efficiency when segregation occurs
Choosing between Microtrac Testing and Sieve Testing
There are a number of differences and parameters to understand when deciding between Microtrac testing and sieve testing. Here are quick guidelines to help you select the best testing option from Medallion Labs.
Microtrac testing can measure particle sizes down to 0.01 micrometers. For comparison, the smallest sieve size Medallion Labs has is 37 micrometers. That’s approximately 3,100 times larger in size than the smallest particle Microtrac testing can measure.
Microtrac testing can accommodate a wider variety of samples. Sieves can’t accommodate sticky samples that form clumps or resist flowing freely through sieve openings.
When particles are collected on a sieve or pass through, they are quantified. For example, a sieve measures 1-micron particles. It can’t distinguish between a 1-micron particle or a 10-micron particle. The two get lumped together. Microtrac testing can identify and measure multiple particle sizes, therefore delivering more precise results.
Historical Quality Control Testing
If you are referencing a previous sieve test when doing quality control testing, then the sieve method should be used again. If you won’t be referencing historical results Microtrac testing using laser diffraction can create a more meaningful analysis.
If the sample dissolves in both water and isopropyl alcohol or cannot be separated and conveyed in the air, a Microtrac test may not be an appropriate choice. A particle’s shape also plays a role in deciding the better testing option. Sieve testing should be used with spherical-shaped particles. Microtrac testing can accommodate spherical and rod-shaped particles while also showing the size distribution between the two extremes.
Sieve testing is more affordable than Microtrac testing and thus can be the better choice for your budget.
Your Reliable Partner for Food Testing
It’s important for food producers to know both particle size and particle disbursement. With Microtrac testing from Medallion Labs, customers receive accurate, reliable, and actionable results to inform their decisions and operations.
When considering Medallion Labs for physical testing or other lab services, we suggest referring to our tech data sheets and online order form for the latest details. Our breadth of testing options helps you maximize your testing budget by providing the results you seek in a cost-efficient manner.
Medallion Labs is ready to use our testing options, expertise, and skills to meet your testing needs. Connect with us or call 1-800-245-5615 to discuss the criteria and testing needs for your food products.