Sensory optimization of raw materials and products

Geruchsoptimierung von Gegenständen des täglichen Gebrauchs

Many materials and products we use on a daily basis have a characteristic odor. If this odor is unpleasant or arises suddenly, the identification of all odorous substances in the relevant product can have important implications. In order to identify the causes, possible negative physiological effects, and opportunities for odor optimization, we carry out qualitative and quantitative sensory analytics. We identify possible reaction pathways and precursor substances that contribute to odor formation. Our detailed knowledge of material properties is also utilized to develop strategies to avoid or minimize odor formation in a wide range of products and materials.

Our services on sensory optimization

Characterization of odors

We characterize odorous substances in non-food products and raw materials. The combination of instrumental and sensory analyses allows us to precisely evaluate the sensory properties of materials and identify possible reaction pathways.

Identification of the cause of off-odors

Identifying the causes of undesired odors is often challenging. We identify components, additives, and raw materials that are responsible for off-odors. Strategies for this include odor simulations and accelerated storage tests.

Strategies for odor optimization

The overall sensory impression of a product has a large bearing on consumer acceptance. We develop strategies to prevent unpleasant odors.

Real-time monitoring of odorants

Odorants often change over the life cycle of a product. Using inline measurements we are also able to detect minute concentration changes and hence monitor dynamic processes involving odorants in real-time.

Quantitative determination

Traces of highly odorous substances often suffice to significantly alter the overall odor of a product. Our quantitative analyses enable very accurate measurement of odorous substances, even down to the trace level.

Identification of irritants

In some cases volatile substances have adverse physiological effects. Innovative analytical methods based on techniques used in aroma research enable us to identify odorous components in a variety of products.

Characterization, monitoring, and optimization of odorants

The characterization of odorants is performed using gas chromatography-olfactometry (GC-O) coupled with mass spectrometry (MS). The use of GC-O enables clear distinction between odorous substances, including off-odors, and non-odorous substances. The analysis also enables direct comparison of different samples and identification of undesired components.

The identification of odorous trace components is performed using high performance two-dimensional GC-O/MS. Here the odorous substances are separated on two coupled GC columns and then analyzed by a mass spectrometer. The odor quality is also evaluated at an odor detection port by highly trained sensory specialists.

The resulting instrumental-chemical information is then compared with the human-sensory evaluations to ensure that all off-odors are identified.

Detailed information about our analytical facilities

Studying dynamic processes in real-time

The technique of proton-transfer-reaction mass spectrometry (PTR-MS) - often coupled with time-of-flight mass spectrometry (PTR-TOF-MS) - is regularly employed for the real-time analysis and quantitation of VOCs. The PTR-MS method allows small changes in the concentration of VOCs to be monitored down to ultra-trace levels. Real-time analysis is vital because important emissions processes are often transient, for example, mechanical or enzymatic processes associated with mastication. We use PTR-MS for both in vivo analyses (e.g. nosespace analysis) and in vitro analyses (e.g. headspace analysis).

Further information about our PTR-MS instrumentation

Extensive analytical instrumentation

In addition to PTR-MS, ion mobility spectrometry (IMS) and other advanced two-dimensional thermal desorption (TD)GCxGC-MS systems are used for analyzing VOCs. This enables the characterization of VOCs with a high resolution. Gas samples can be collected on sorbent tubes (e.g. Tenax) using a micro-chamber/thermal extractor, with subsequent analysis by GC-MS following thermal desorption.

Information about our analytical equipment

Our service in the field of characterization, monitoring and optimization of odorous substances:

  • Optimization of the sensory properties of your products
  • Optimal process monitoring via real-time analysis
  • Identification of VOCs and VOC profiles
  • Rapid screening of (odor-active) contaminants
  • Detection of VOC migration
  • Compliance assessment (exposure limit assessment)
  • Determination of air quality
  • Assured product quality
  • Access to advanced analytical instrumentation and modern laboratories
  • Advice from an experienced and multidisciplinary team of experts

Odor analysis for different products and applications

Shredded plastic recyclates in various laboratory glasses

Plastics and recyclates

Many plastics and recyclates have unpleasant odors. In particular, plastics produced from recycled post-consumer waste often do not meet the quality requirements of the packaging industry. We characterize odorous contaminants and develop customized solutions for odor optimization or minimization.

Three scientists at the table, in front of them toys in olfactory glasses

Children's products and toys

Toys and other children's products often have a distinct odor. We identify these volatile components, possible reaction pathways, and their effect on the human body. We have already found that many substances lead to off-odors and irritation.

Wood discs and wood shavings

Wood and wooden products

The characteristic odor of wood has been little researched to date. We evaluate odorous substances in wood using advanced analytical methods used in food aroma research. We determine what odorous substances in wood transfer to downstream products such as paper and cardboard and determine any changes during the manufacturing process.

Other product groups and raw materials

We can quantify volatile compounds in many other non-food products and materials, for example:

  • Packaging and products for food contact
  • Adhesives, binders
  • Cosmetics, bodycare products
  • Raw materials (e.g. fats and fat derivatives)