Accurate CO2 Measurements in the Food and Beverage Industry

Whatever the end product, process, or need, the goals are similar in almost all applications: a CO2 measurement that accurately reflects the environment and meets the application requirements. As carbon dioxide results from the metabolism of a living organism and is also an important part of photosynthesis, we cannot ignore its importance when considering process safety, or when discussing productivity or product quality.

Very high concentrations of carbon dioxide are hazardous because CO2 eplaces oxygen. Too much CO2 also has a negative impact on human comfort, which is why most countries enforce workplace exposure limits.

It is particularly important to measure carbon dioxide safety levels in the beverage industry: fermentation tanks release CO2 from pressure relief valves in case of overpressure; there is also a risk of gas leakage from tanks or pipelines on soft drink bottling lines. Because CO2 is heavier than air, the gas can accumulate in non-ventilated areas and pose a serious health risk for employees. This is why CO2 measurement sensors should be placed as close to floor level as possible.

Another application that involves safety measurement is refrigeration. CO2 is also known as refrigerant R744 and is much more environmentally friendly than many other gases previously used in refrigeration. It is widely used in supermarket and grocery store chill cabinets, cold rooms, walk-in freezers, and industrial cold storages. As with all refrigeration systems, leaks can occur over time due to poor maintenance practices, mechanical wear, accidental damage, improper installation, or simply because CO2 refrigeration systems typically operate at high pressures.

Without properly maintained CO2 monitoring equipment leaks can go undetected as CO2 is an odorless and colorless gas. Although Vaisala CARBOCAP products are not safety approved, many customers have found they work well for early warning and general monitoring purposes. In order to detect CO2 as quickly as possible, transmitters should be installed close to potential leakage points such as flanges, valves, pressure reducers, or pumps.