Rheology: Looking beyond the food industry

Rheology is the study of the flow of matter, primarily in the liquid state but also as ‘soft solids’ or solids under conditions in which they respond with plastic flow rather than deforming elastically in response to an applied force. When trying to understand the science of rheology, the most common explanation is a discussion on the deformation of food. So, oil and water flow in normal ways whereas mayonnaise, ketchup, peanut butter and chocolate syrup flow in complex and unusual ways.

But using rheology in food production is only one subfield of this broad science. Many industrial and pharmaceutical problems have rheological concerns and many common formulas and products have intricate rheological properties. Variations in seemingly identical products can also affect its rheology, such as protein, API concentration and excipient type for biopharmaceuticals.

Some examples of common formulas or products where rheology is necessary are:

  • paints and coatings for product application and final finish quality
  • personal care products for their ability to pump and spread
  • rubber mixtures and the influences of different additives, such as carbon black, fillers, lubricants, accelerators or sulphur

We’ve partnered with Thermo Scientific to offer a wide range of rheological instruments. Thermo Scientific provides material characterization solutions that analyze and measure viscosity, elasticity, processability and temperature-related mechanical changes of plastics, food, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and coatings, chemical or petrochemical products, plus a wide variety of liquids or solids.

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