The FlowCAM imaging particle analysis system from laboratory instrumentation manufacturer Fluid Imaging Technologies of Yarmouth, Maine, has enabled Ross Clark, distinguished research fellow of global ingredient supplier CP Kelco, San Diego, Calif., to detect and identify minute batch-to-batch variations in particle size and shape that would otherwise remain undetectable using screening, microscopy or other particle analysis instrumentation.
Using the automated FlowCAM to compare the size and shape of xanthan gum samples produced at two different plants that both met screen size specifications and appeared identical, Clark imaged thousands of particles in minutes, revealing minor differences in the particle size distribution. Then he emailed the images and data to colleagues. “Seeing digital images of individual particles on the FlowCAM provided the documentation I needed to prove what was happening with the powder flow,” says Clark.
The FlowCAM automatically detects the presence of particles and cells in a sample, takes a high resolution digital image of each one and saves each image for analysis with its corresponding measurement data, all in real-time. In use at Nestle, Heinz, GlaxoSmithKline, Abbott Molecular and hundreds of other companies, the FlowCAM images thousands of particles in seconds while measuring up to 32 different properties such as area, length, width, diameter, volume (ESD) and count to circle fit, elongation and roughness.
“Manual microscopy was just too cumbersome and slow, it was difficult to see more than a handful of particles, certainly not enough to get a statistically significant sample,” says Clark, “The FlowCAM is the only instrumentation on the market that bases its measurements on the actual size and shape of the particle so the data is accurate, reliable and reproducible.”