SCIENCE & RESEARCH

Focus on product safety

Together with the Safety Engineering faculty at Bergische Universität Wuppertal in Germany, Symrise is researching the flammability of flavor ingredients in powder form. The findings are incorporated into product development. The goal: to make product handling safer.

SCIENCE & RESEARCH

Focus on product safety

Together with the Safety Engineering faculty at Bergische Universität Wuppertal in Germany, Symrise is researching the flammability of flavor ingredients in powder form. The findings are incorporated into product development. The goal: to make product handling safer.

Katarina Kolomiyets triggers a controlled explosion with 2 grams of pepper flavoring in the research laboratory.

Powdered flavors are among the largest and most varied groups of Symrise products. They are produced in a number of facilities and then processed further. It is important to note that powders are flammable under certain circumstances. “We are focusing on this because such a dust explosion can have a violent effect,” says Dr. Jenny Weissbrodt, Director of Technology Scouting and Development. Of course, all Symrise facilities are equipped with spark and temperature detectors, relief valves and other means of con­structional explosion pro­tection. “We are concerned with the products we manu­facture. We have to know about their properties so we can evaluate how dan­gerous they can be under certain con­ditions,” says Dr. Weissbrodt. After all, product safety and process safety are becoming increasingly important for Symrise as well as its customers. “To be able to ascertain the risks, we have to determine the products’ explosion pa­rameters,” explains Dr. Christopher Sabater, Director of Technology Research.

The aim is to stop developing products that are highly flammable. To facilitate this, it is important to find out which fac­tors lead a product to ignite even with a low-energy elec­trostatic spark – and the category to which the ignition source belongs. If this can be done by simply grounding the equipment, plant safety can handle it. Questions and aspects like these are the reason the topic landed in the research department, and the reason Symrise is working with scientists at Universität Wuppertal to find answers. In the new safety lab in Holzminden, it is first and foremost Katarina Kolomiyets, R&T Technologist, who is searching for answers. This is where she assesses the flammability of flavor ingredients. “We systematically modify the parameters that we believe influence the substances’ flammability,” reports Katarina. These can be flavor content, particle size, structure or fluidity.

We’re conducting truly fundamental and basic research.

Katarina Kolomiyets, R&T Technologist

The scientists then apply the knowledge they obtain in product development. Ultimately, everything from flavor devel­opment to customer use should be de­fined in corre­sponding guidelines in the developer standards. To do this, the sci­entists work closely with the group led by Eric Gruber in Industrialization & Process Innovation, who write the recipes for these products. However, there are 2,000 active formulas for spray-dried products alone, and one would need three days just to fully characterize one powder and determine all its explosion para­meters. Researchers are therefore cur­rently working on a screen­ing process, a sys­tematic test procedure for defined ele­ments with specific properties. This will allow them to draw conclusions about many products in a relatively short amount of time. “We’re conducting truly fundamental and basic research,” Katarina emphasizes. There is very little data so far in either the literature or in patents: In this sense, she, Dr. Weissbrodt, Dr. Sabater and their team are doing pioneering work. The results provide not only increased safety for Symrise and its customers but also a huge competitive advantage.


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