Unisensor Sensorsysteme GmbH

- Foreign Substance Inspection System

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AQUASCREEN is a compact foreign substance inspection system for large, refillable water containers with capacities of 5 to 19 liters. Broadband spectroscopy reliably detects contamination with e.g. diesel, petrol, engine oil, hydrocarbons and cleaning or washing agents in the ppm or sub-ppm range online. The system uses gas-tight sampling and can handle up to 4,000 containers an hour.

Reuse of large water containers

Large polycarbonate (PC) or polyethylene terephthalate (PET) water containers are frequently used in countries with poor drinking water quality, but also increasingly in industrialized countries. They are used as drinking water containers in offices, supermarkets or doctors' practices. Both polycarbonate and PET are plastics that are manufactured from valuable raw materials such as oil or natural gas. One kilogram of PET requires around 1.9 kilograms of crude oil and a vast amount of energy to produce. Dwindling resources and the growing mountains of landfill around the world are making it urgently necessary to recycle containers made from valuable materials such as polycarbonate or PET wherever possible. Especially where drinking water is concerned, the containers must be perfectly clean and free from contaminants.

Reliably identifying contaminants

In order to satisfy the exacting quality requirements for drinking water, strict controls are essential. This is the only way to safeguard the level of cleanliness required of the containers. Just like commonly-used PET bottles, however, large water containers are also frequently misused. They are used, for example, for transporting and storing various liquids such as petrol or oil, filled with detergents or fabric softeners or filled with other volatile or non-volatile substances. The containers can only be reused for drinking water if they have been thoroughly checked and found that no contamination exists. This quality control can be carried out quickly and reliably in an online process with the compact, robust AQUASCREEN. Positive detection is used to reject contaminated containers prior to the refilling process, with a very low false reject rate. Analytical and evaluation software based on neuronal networks ensures a high degree of sensitivity and selectivity.

Functional principle

AQUASCREEN operates using the principle of optical absorption spectroscopy. The compact measuring system uses a broadband spectrometer in the UV range to detect contamination.

Up to 4,000 containers with a capacity of 5 to 19 liters can be checked every hour with a constant detection level. If contamination with foreign substances is detected, the container is rejected before the refilling process, and this mechanism achieves a very low false reject rate. 

The compact system requires no electrical drive systems and takes up very little space. As a robust, all-in-one solution, even the standard version includes all of the modules fully integrated with the measuring system:

  • An ejector unit (pusher) to remove contaminated containers
  • A bottle stopper
  • An air conditioning module
  • An uninterruptible power supply for controlled shutdown in the event of a power failure
  • A fanless industrial PC with Compact Flash storage devices
High sensitivity and selectivity

The analysis using a broadband spectrometer ensures a broad detection bandwidth of foreign substances. The substances are recognized from their physical fingerprint, i.e. based on their typical spectrum. The principle of positive detection accepts only known spectra; containers with unknown fingerprints are rejected. The evaluation algorithms, based on neuronal networks, ensure a higher degree of sensitivity and selectivity.

The gas-tight sealed sampling system, unlike open sampling, allows the efficient, mixing-free and homogeneous extraction of gases from each container. Even heavy molecules located at the base of the bottle can be reliably detected at all speeds with a constant level of efficiency. This is of particular benefit for large containers.

No calibration errors

The system does not use calibration gas and does not need to be recalibrated by the operator. Automatic reference measurements, carried out at periodic intervals, safeguard measurement stability. As a result, there are no additional operating costs due to calibration gases. The laborious task of handling bottles is no longer necessary since there is no need to exchange calibration gas bottles. Operating and calibration errors by the operator are also excluded, eliminating downtimes and reducing operating costs.

Areas of use

The AQUASCREEN foreign substance inspection system is part of a wider family of inspection system products including high-speed inspection systems for RefPET bottles. It has been tested worldwide and approved by leading drinks manufacturers for the analysis of foreign substances in water lines. In large polycarbonate / PET water containers in particular, quality assurance must be guaranteed when they are being used for filling with drinks.

Operators of bottling systems must ensure that these containers, which are used several times, are not contaminated with foreign substances. Only a comprehensive analysis that recognizes foreign substances offers reliable brand protection and therefore the safety and security needed for consumers. AQUASCREEN offers the highest measuring speed with consistent detection quality on the market, and with its broad detection spectrum ensures maximum safety and reliability.

The foreign substance inspection system is based on the principle of broadband spectroscopy and checks up to 4,000 containers of a capacity of 5 to 19 liters an hour, all with the same detection quality. A broadband spectrometer in the UV range and a gas analysis module ensure a broad detection bandwidth. AQUASCREEN's key feature is the gas-tight sealed sampling system, which is particularly useful for large containers. Even heavy molecules in the lower areas of the bottle can be reliably detected at all speeds with a constant level of efficiency. This is where systems that use open sampling quickly reach the limits of their abilities.

High sensitivity and selectivity:

Numerous tests at leading drinks manufacturers all over the world attest to the foreign substance inspection system's superlative sensitivity and selectivity. Positive detection ensures that containers that show traces of unknown substances are reliably rejected.

High reliability and availability:

The compact, all-in-one measuring system uses no electrical drives and can be integrated easily and inexpensively into water lines even when space is limited. An uninterruptible power supply ensures controlled shutdown in the event of a power failure.

Low operating costs:

The system does not require calibration or operating gases and offers a high level of availability even in regions with a poor infrastructure.

High detection speed:

At up to 4,000 containers an hour, the extraneous material inspector is the fastest system of its kind on the market and offers a consistently high level of detection quality.

Gas-tight sealed sampling:

Efficient, mixture-free and homogeneous extraction of gases from the containers with a simultaneously low sensitivity to environmental influences.

High degree of readiness for the future:

AQUASCREEN can be extended and adapted to new market requirements.

  • Measuring principle opto-electronic
  • Line speed <= 0,4 m/s
  • Error output optical, acoustic, floating contact, automatic discharge
  • Power supply 115/230 V, 16A
  • Mains frequency 50/60 Hz
  • Operating pressure 6 bar
  • Operating temperature 10-45 °C
  • Air supply oil-free, dry air, 6-10 bar
  • Weight 180 kg
  • Dimensions (HxWxL) 1.950 x 800 x 800 mm

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