News | June 4, 2009

MOCON Targets Pharma Applications Via New Oxygen, Carbon Dioxide Package Headspace Analyzer

Source: MOCON, Inc.

MOCON, Inc.'s new PAC CHECK® Model 650 EC dual oxygen (O2) and carbon dioxide (CO2) benchtop headspace analyzer is targeting low-headspace, pharma applications. The unit provides an efficient, accurate way to help manufacturers know if the correct balance of O2 and CO2 is being achieved to support shelf life and efficacy objectives.

"Single-dose packages such as ampoules, vials, syringes and blow-fill-seal units frequently have gas headspace of less than one cubic centimeter. Instruments need three to four times that to produce an accurate reading, which means that gas needs to be drawn from multiple packages," Anthony Ahmed, product manager, MOCON explained.

"With headspace that small, occasionally a small amount of liquid might be inadvertently removed and inserted into the analyzer along with the gas. Unlike many higher-end lab units, the EC line is more forgiving and less likely to incur an expensive repair should that happen," he said. "For example, a damaged sensor can be replaced by plant personnel in less than 10 minutes without the additional cost of a service call or significant downtime.

The Pac Check 650EC is the second product launched under MOCON's Performance Series, EC (electrochemical) class. In addition to targeting small volume pharma headspace applications, the line has been designed as a cost-effective option for smaller companies and fledgling businesses in emerging global economies, who previously could not afford package headspace analysis.

"We've engineered a true laboratory instrument at a very affordable cost for entry level companies to determine exactly how much residual oxygen and carbon dioxide has been left inside the package. The precision and speed in which this unit is able to deliver results offers significant benefits to smaller companies who need to meet shelf life commitments," said Ahmed.

The PAC CHECK Model 650 EC's simplified menu structure lets users go from "set-up to test" in less than a minute, making it extremely fast and easy to operate. It can measure both O2 and CO2 concentration ranges from 0 to 100% in rigid, semi-rigid and flexible packages.

Further, the unit allows both automatic and manual gas sampling. The manual mode (which relies on a septum and a syringe) is more suited for packages with smaller amounts of headspace. Gas collected via syringe is then inserted into the instrument via a port and measurement takes place.

In the automatic mode, a septum is applied to the package via a pressure-sensitive adhesive. Next, a probe is inserted through the septum which creates a hermetic seal. A gas sample is drawn by pushing a button which actives a pump creating a vacuum. The gas passes through the needle and tube assembly, through the septum to the instrument's sensors. Results are available in seconds.

The instrument also includes MOCON's Flo Smart® technology and the brand new patent-pending Cal-Smart® calibration feature. Flo Smart® is a sensing system which knows when blockage has occurred in the testing line. It notifies the operator so that faulty readings can be prevented.

Cal-Smart® features one-button calibration. It uses ambient air and advanced electronic controls to perform a two-point calibration (0- and 21- percent gas levels) vs. the commonly used room air or certified tank gas methods. Two-point calibrations are fast and easy which improves the instrument's accuracy and repeatability while significantly reducing intervals between more time consuming certified gas calibrations. The unit also has temperature and pressure compensation for test consistency.

"We've made this unit truly global-friendly. In addition to the ‘out of the box' operation simplicity, there is never any need to ship the unit back to us for scheduled maintenance. This is another benefit for users in other parts of the world," Ahmed says.

Additionally, the Pac Check 650EC targets cheese, meat, poultry, seafood, prepared meals, pasta, baked goods, fresh produce, carbonated soft drinks, coffee and a variety of other packaged food products.

MOCON is a leading provider of instrumentation and consulting and laboratory services to medical, pharmaceutical, food and other industries worldwide.