Essential and Natural Oils

The Sagitto system is ideal for the measurement of essential oils, and natural oils used for both cosmetic and food products. Accurate machine learning models can be built to rapidly quantify specific components in oils, using reference data created from conventional chemistry methods. In addition, samples can also be analysed for authenticity - instances where an individual sample differs from usual samples of that type, because of accidental or deliberate adulteration.


Manuka and Kanuka Essential Oil

Manuka leaves are a source of valuable essential oil with powerful bioactivity properties.

Manuka flowers and leaves © wikipedia user gerald.w Copyrighted free use

This* model measures the percentage of Manuka beta triketones in Manuka essential oil. Oil extracted from Manuka plants harvested from the East Cape of New Zealand is high in natural β-triketones. The Sagitto system provides NZ Manuka Bioactives with a rapid and accurate way of grading their oils, and has become an integral part of ensuring that their oils comply with the MβTK™ grading system.

"Manuka essential oil has a very diverse chemical makeup. Some of the very important compounds that make up the composition of the essential oil are known as β-triketones. These β-triketones correlate very strongly to the Gram-positive antimicrobial efficacy of the oil, and vary significantly around NZ’s natural population of this species. The New Zealand Manuka Group has developed a grading system standard based on the % level of these manuka β-triketones that we designate as the MBTK level (i.e. MBTK 20+ guaranties ≥ 20% manuka β-triketones) to give customers confidence in what they are purchasing.

These MBTK levels in the oil vary considerably depending on geographical source and season of the raw material harvest. In conjunction with Sagitto we have been able to develop a model based on machine learning to rapidly determine this MBTK level during production or as part of our R&D, on very small sample quantities. This allows us to rapidly and accurately grade production oils and direct them to appropriate stock grade allocations within a few minutes, to maximise our sales revenues."
Dr Wayne Campbell, NZ Manuka Bioactives

Oil extracted from Kanuka leaves is equally valuable. Since Manuka (Leptospermum scoparium) and Kanuka (Kunzea ericoides) plants are very similar in appearance, there is a risk that inexperienced staff involved in the harvesting process might accidently mix the two plant species. The Sagitto system provides NZ Manuka Bioactives with a valuable quality control mechanism, to ensure that their Manuka and Kanuka essential oils are pure.

Lavender Oil

There are many different Lavandula cultivars - each with its own fragrance profile and chemical composition. These differences are, of course, evident when the oils are analysed using gas chromatography. They are also reflected in their NIR absorbance spectra.

Sagitto uses data science to help plant breeders to rapidly screen cultivars in their search to maximise yield and/or develop new desirable combinations of traits.

By applying modern data science techniques to data from inexpensive and field-portable instruments, we can greatly speed up the discovery cycle since expensive and time consuming laboratory techniques only need to be applied to favourable candidates.

We can also analyse changes in spectra from an individual batch, to predict its optimum maturity date - just as the wine industry monitors the maturation of wines.

The NIR spectra of an essential oil, such as lavender oil, is like a finger print. It is unique for each oil sample, at a particular time.
There are well-established data science techniques that can help us to visualise spectral data in two dimensions. However accurate prediction models use more sophisticated data science techniques to simultaneously examine hundreds of dimensions.

Here is an example report produced by the Sagitto system, using a machine learning model that classifies lavender oil by cultivar. Example Report


We can determine the Lavandula cultivar from which lavender oil is extracted.

Harvesting Lavandula angustifolia 'Avice Hill' at Snowy River Lavender

Shark Liver Oil

This model measures the percentage (w/w) of squalene in shark liver oil, using near-infrared (NIR) spectroscopy (900nm-1700nm). The samples of shark liver oil used in this model had been previously analysed for squalene content by scientists at Plant and Food Research with results published in the paper Rapid Quantitative Determination of Squalene in Shark Liver Oils by Raman and IR Spectroscopy. Sagitto is grateful for the support of Plant and Food Research staff, who not only provided the samples but also the high quality reference data which allowed us to build a very accurate predictive model.

Sagitto miniature NIR spectroscopy can be used to accurately measure the composition of fish oils.
* use of this model requires permission of model owner, NZ Manuka Bioactives