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Cutting edge IR spectroscopy to find fossil cheaters

Foto: Bruno /Germany, Pixabay

Analytical chemistry is key to many aspects of our modern society. In the two-day seminar ”From question to reliable answer, from problem to solution – On current aspects of analytical chemistry”, you get the opportunity to learn more about ongoing research and current practices of analytical chemistry with examples from the entire width of the field.

One of the speakers is Conny Haraldsson from Research Institutes of Sweden, Rise. He will speak about the organization’s new laboratory for carbon 14-determination, where IR spectroscopy will be the core technology.

An instrument for IR spectroscopy will be delivered to the lab from Italy in May. Conny Haraldsson points out that Rise is the first lab in the world that will use this instrument commercially, and that the technology is highly advanced.

Conny Haraldsson.
Foto: Rise

– By reflecting the light back and forth between two mirrors, the effective cuvette length in the instrument is 20 to 50 kilometers. This is a lot longer than in other instruments, where the light may only bounce for centimeters or meters.

This is cutting-edge analytical chemistry.

Another interesting thing about the technology is the temperature at which the analysis is made, says Conny Haraldsson.

– The measurements are done at a temperature of minus 100 degrees Celsius under a pressure of 10 millibars. This makes the absorbance lines very narrow and it will help us to distinguish between different substances more effectively.

The instrument will be used to distinguish the origin of different fuels, plastics, chemicals etc. A client could for instance suspect, and want to verify, that e.g. a plastic bag is made from a higher amount of fossil material and with less renewable sources than it is claimed to be.

The origin of the material is analyzed by measuring the concentration of the radioactive carbon isotope carbon-14, which is present in renewable material but almost absent in fossil sources.

– We have received more than 600 inquiries already, and we have found a few instances where the content of fossil material is much higher than it’s supposed to be, says Conny Haraldsson.

– Carbon dating has been used for a long time but the presently used techniques have drawbacks. For example, they are expensive with regards to the large amount of samples that need to be analyzed. IR-spectroscopy is more affordable.

Who should listen to your talk?

– This is cutting-edge analytical chemistry so if you are interested in highly advanced spectroscopy or in sustainability, you should listen to my talk.

Interested in learning more? Read more about the mini-symposium and register at Mini-Symposium 2021, 3-4 May – Svenska Kemisamfundet