Canadian Grain Commission
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Automated Mattson cooker

The automated Mattson cooker system including the computer, cooker apparatus, and sensor assembly.

The cooking time of pulses is an important quality issue for pulse breeders, importers and exporters, and food processors. Although there are several methods for measuring cooking time, none are entirely satisfactory. Subjective sensory and tactile evaluation may not always be consistent. The Mattson cooker apparatus, which measures cooking time using weighted plungers, is more objective but requires constant attention. Also, it can be difficult for the operator to take accurate notes if several seeds reach the cooked state at the same time.

The Canadian Grain Commission's Pulse Research team has developed a solution. The team has modified the stand-alone Mattson cooker so that it is monitored by a computer and the test results are automatically recorded.

What are the advantages of the automated Mattson cooker?

The Pulse Research team's design integrates sensing hardware and computer monitoring to make the testing process both easy to use and resource efficient. The design features

  • Graphical test monitoring
  • Data saved to a spreadsheet
  • Compact size
  • Small sample size

The automated Mattson cooker has several advantages over the original stand-alone design:

  • It does not require uninterrupted attention. After the operator sets up the test, the computer monitors the Mattson cooker and stops the test when the test parameters are met.
  • Data is automatically recorded. The computer records the time of each plunger drop in a spreadsheet file. Spreadsheet data can be easily organized into charts, graphs, and other forms of statistical analysis.
  • It is accurate. The computer can record plunger drops as they happen, even if they are simultaneous.

What is a stand-alone Mattson cooker?

The Mattson cooker consists of a cooking rack of 25 perforated depressions and 25 weighted plungers. Each depression holds one seed and one end of a plunger sits on top of each seed. When a seed is cooked, its plunger pierces the seed and drops through the perforation in the cooking rack.

How is the Mattson cooker automated?

The Pulse Research team designed a sensor assembly, which mounts on top of the Mattson cooker. The sensor assembly is connected to an interface box which in turn is connected to an input/output card and the computer. When a plunger drops, the sensor assembly detects the change and sends a signal to the computer, which records the event.

The image shows how the computer connects to the sensor assembly and Mattson cooker.

The automated Mattson cooker's interface box connects a computer to the sensor assembly.

How does the computer monitor the Mattson cooker?

The photo shows the Easy CT screen.

The Pulse Research team developed Easy CT 1.0 to monitor the automated Mattson cooker.

To monitor the automated Mattson cooker and record test results, the Pulse Research team developed Easy CT 1.0. This Windows application allows the operator to

  • Set the parameters of the test
  • Specify a file to log results
  • Stop the test at any time
  • Monitor the status of the plungers
  • Monitor test progress and results

As the test is running, Easy CT writes the results to a spreadsheet. The spreadsheet records the start and stop times of the test, and the elapsed time into the test that each plunger dropped.

Easy CT displays the test status. The program graphs the results as they happen. The array on the left side of the screen shows which plungers have dropped. Fields above the array display the test start time, elapsed time, and the number of plungers that have dropped.

For what types of applications can the automated Mattson cooker be used?

The automated Mattson cooker could be used by

  • Pulse breeders, as a reference test method for evaluating new lines of pulses
  • Importers and exporters, to determine the cooking quality of individual shipment
  • Food processors, for quality control testing

The biggest difference between this method and others is that testing with the automated Mattson cooker is more efficient, accurate, and cost effective.

Which classes of pulses can be evaluated using the automated Mattson cooker?

The Pulse Research team has effectively tested the automated design on field peas, lentils, chickpeas, and beans. The cooking times of all classes of pulses could be evaluated by adjusting plunger weights.

The photo shows the Mattson cooker plungers and cooking rack with seeds.

The Mattson cooker plungers and cooking rack with seeds

How can I build an automated Mattson cooker?

To help clients improve their quality testing processes, the Canadian Grain Commission is marketing this technology to plant breeders, researchers, and other interested parties.

The technology package consists of technical drawings and a CD containing the Easy CT 1.0 application. With this information, clients can arrange to have their own automated Mattson cooker built.

How can I get more information?

For information on licensing the technical drawings and software, contact

Cari Miller
Revenue Contracts Officer & Regulatory Coordinator
Telephone: (204) 983-3081
Email: cari.miller@grainscanada.gc.ca

For technical information on the automated Mattson cooker, contact

Ning Wang, Research Scientist
Telephone: (204) 983-2154
Email: ning.wang@grainscanada.gc.ca