Light Light Solutions, LLC
Light Light Solutions, LLC (LLS) was incorporated as a single owner limited liability company in 2007. In early January, 2008, Woody Barton, Dan Akin, and Curt Marcott were invited to join the company as full partners. Woody and Dan had just retired from the Agricultural Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, whereas Curt had just retired from the Procter & Gamble Corporation.
Light Light Solutions does have consulting contracts with some manufacturers of spectroscopic instrumentation, but these contracts are clear that Light Light Solutions will in no way represent those companies. We will not sell the instruments for those companies or be influenced by working with them. It is our goal to provide the best instrumentation and solutions for clients and we have made this point abundantly clear to those manufacturers. We always consider all instrumentation known to us and make recommendations based on specifications and actual performance, regardless of the manufacturer.
No Sample Too Large or Too Small
Sometimes samples are not convenient to take to a laboratory, for example, the cotton modules shown to the left. Each of these modules is 26 feet in length, 8 feet wide, and up to 8 feet in height. Their mass can be up to 22,000 pounds. This is raw cotton after harvest. The modules contain the cotton fiber (lint), but also many other plant parts, such as husks, stems, leaves, etc. The gin separates the lint from the trash. One problem often encountered with raw cotton is "stickiness", specifically the waste products from aphids and white flies that feed on the cotton plant. Stickiness is often a problem in ginning, spinning of the fiber to make yarn, and weaving the yarn into cloth. Stickiness is a multi-million dollar problem to the cotton/textile industry.
We have developed instrumentation and chemometric models for the detection of stickiness at the gin. This is measured on the module as it is fed into the separator, or even in the field. In the photograph on the right two spectrometers are being set up to take spectra of the modules in the staging area. Both spectrometers are NIR instruments that cover the range of 1250 to 2500 nm (8000 to 4000 cm-1). The cotton stickiness is at the ppb level and it is not homogeneously spread on the cotton, consequently sampling must be done over a relatively large area. Each of these spectrometers samples an area of 6 to 8 inches in diameter. The instruments are able to work even in direct sunlight. These are prototype instruments and are not as yet mounted on an appropriate vehicle to measure the modules in the staging area. The final design is to have the spectrometer scan the module from end to end and top to bottom. Sticky modules can be cleaned, but this is an expensive operation. The number of modules at this facility is significant; a module is processed every twenty-five minutes and the gin operates 24 hours a day for five months.
Instrument Development and Design
On the left we can be seen setting up two spectrometers that we have specified for use in the near infrared. Both instruments operate in reflection. These are prototype instruments resulting from work with instrument manufacturers. While components of the instruments are on the market, the specific designs were developed from Light Light Solutions specifications. The "yellow box spectrometer" on the left is the earlier prototype and it requires an extremely bright source for spectral collection. The "black box spectrometer" is of a new, more rugged design, and it requires considerably less illumination. In fact, the illumination for the second unit is overly bright as we did not have the appropriate low intensity lamps available for the test being shown. The two instruments are some 12 inches (30 cm) from the sample and a sample size of approximately 6 inches (15 cm) in diameter is being recorded. A second generation prototype of the "black box spectrometer" is now in testing with Light Light Solutions and its performance is considerably better than the first generation. We are presently looking at packaging the spectrometer for adverse conditions use and for use as a portable spectrometer.