University of Birmingham spinout Rheality Ltd has been awarded funding by Innovate UK’s Sustainable Innovation Fund to develop its ‘acoustic fingerprint’ technology, which will reduce waste in Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG), food, petrochemical and pharmaceutical manufacturing.
The company’s innovative technology measures fluid rheology, or the viscosity of fluids and how they flow. This is critically important in production lines for liquids such as ketchup or shampoo that need to have a specific consistency to come out of the bottle.
Rheality was set up to realise the benefits of a fluid-sensor system developed by Dr Daniel Hefft and Professor Federico Alberini at the University’s School of Chemical Engineering. The technology uses a pin that vibrates as fluid flows around it, an acoustic sensor that converts the vibrations into an electrical signal, and an Artificial Intelligence Machine Learning algorithm that analyses the signal and converts it into a rheological value.
The entire system is mounted on the pipe to deliver continuous monitoring of the fluids inside it, and can be calibrated to determine the presence of air bubbles or particulates in liquids, or to indicate the end-stage of a chemical reaction.
This real-time measurement provides continuous monitoring, which has many benefits for manufacturing industries. Current practice is to take samples and test them “off-line”, requiring production to stop while testing takes place. If the fluid has the wrong properties, the entire batch has to be re-worked or scrapped.
Rheality intends to partner with FMCG companies, and make bespoke applications for petrochemical and pharmaceutical companies as well as in all those sectors where knowledge of fluid characteristics is essential.
The Sustainable Innovation Fund from Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, is investing to fund single and collaborative research and development projects over the next two years. The aim of the funding is to help all sectors of the UK rebuild after the effects of COVID-19.
Innovate UK Executive Chair Ian Campbell said: “In these difficult times we have seen the best of British business innovation. The pandemic is not just a health emergency but one that impacts society and the economy. Rheality Ltd, along with every initiative Innovate UK has supported through this fund, is an important step forward in driving sustainable economic development. Each one is also helping to realise the ambitions of hard-working people.”
The company is exhibiting at the Made Smarter Emerging Tech Show at the Digital Manufacturing Week 2020 on Friday 13th November.
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Rheality Ltd is an emerging spinout from the University of Birmingham. The company has developed an AI enabled technology to measure the rheology of fluids in real-time during production to reduce waste and increase productivity.
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