Nutrition/Food Analysis | Applications | DDS Calorimeters

Here is an example of food calories from

As the article says : "The method of using a combustion calorimeter to measure food calories is not frequently used today. However, after some considerations it can, and is, used today for checking the production quality of food."

Let's look at the details :

An estimate of the major nutritional components look like :

Carbohydrates 4Kcal 16.736Kj
Protein 4Kcal 16.736Kj
Fat 9Kcal 37.656Kj
Alcohol 7Kcal 29.288Kj
Fibre ~0 ~0

Of course there are differences between the above components. For details check the National Data Lab Website.

If one substitutes carbohydrates with protein then the measured calorific value will stay the same. However, if the fat (oil) content changes then the CV will change drastically. Therefore, the combustion calorimeter can be used to measure the change in fat, oil, and alcohol content.

It is a valuable tool in assuring the fat content in feed/food stuff. Good examples are : potato chips, fish in oil, sauce powder, etc. Since we are concerned with our daily calorie intake, the fat is the most damaging component, the calorimeter becomes a valuable tool in checking on the fat content.

This leaves the fibres as the major interfering food component : It burns well in the calorimeter, but has very little or no nutritional value. In a calorimeter it produces :

Fibres ~4Kcal 16.736Kj

The CAL3K is equipped to reduce the calorific value when the fibre content is entered as a percentage of the mass. The fibre content of the measuring sample can be added together from the individual food components. But a little warning : If you reduce the protein and increase the fibre content then the calorimeter would not detect this. But you may taste it.

The calorimeter is a valuable tool to measure food calories if one keeps the fibre content stable. It is primarily used for quality control and because it is a very fast method.

The water (moisture) content does not produce any calorific value in a body or in the calorimeter. It must be considered if a dried sample is burned. This applies to cold drinks and other liquids. They are reduced to a syrup by boiling them until most of the water is evaporated. However, the syrup has a moisture content, it is not completely dry. This moisture content can be entered in the CAL3K Calorimeter and the calorimeter will calculate the dry CV. If a liquid is reduced to crystals (dry!) then the moisture compensation can be ignored.


Many institutions are doing research and development on food. The aim is to improve the nutritional value of the food. The parameters may be to compare different foods or different manufacturers or to genetically improve the food. Other aspects may be to improve the digestion and energy absorption of animal feeds. Part of the research involves determining the calorific value of the food. The calorific value of a particular food is the same as the energy content of that food. The food can be for either human consumption or animal consumption

Animal Feed Research

Food calories are measured in KJ/g, the same as combustible calories. However, the process is different, although the outcome is the same : KJ/g or heat, or calories.

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Simple, we at Digital Data Systems (DDS) have been making calorimeters for the last 40 years. We have a wealth of technical knowledge and calorimeter experience second to none.

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More Applications

Traditional Applications like fossil fuels, propellants, safety applications, heat ignitable explosives, scientific research, volatile fuels and oils, and non-traditional applications like animal feed production and the production and use of edible oils.

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Forest Waste

Solid biomass fuels are useful and a cost effective renewable energy source. The energy content of the biomass is determined by its calorific value.

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