Electronic sniffing noses may the next big thing in brewing. Not to mention electronic tongues

on 11/01/11 at 9:16 am

Beer

A review published in Trends in Food Science & Technology has identified brewing as a growing market for electronic nose technology.

Brewers typically use trained experts to evaluate the aroma of beer and raw materials but an electronic nose that mimics the human one is being used more and more as a quality assessment tool.

Reviewing the literature on the subject, scientists from Iran and Spain said relying on the human nose has a number of potential drawbacks including slow evaluation, expense, subjectivity, and assessor fatigue.

E. nose advantages

The ability of electronic noses to overcome some of these problems has sparked an interest in them in recent years. The scientists said: “The demand for electronic noses in brewing is growing because the versatility and ease of operation of these instruments make them suitable for quick and accurate analysis of beers or for monitoring quality in the production process.”

But there are significant weaknesses to the technology that are restricting its application in breweries.

In particular, their sensing ability is affected by environmental factors such as temperature, humidity and background noise.

These challenges have prompted designers to combine an electronic nose array with a gas chromatography column or mass spectrometer. However, these machines are large and expensive, placing limitations on the potential application of the electronic nose.

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