Some foods may soon boast a “Tested by NMR” label thanks to a new unique scanner made at KFU.
The Institute of Physics currently works on a mobile molecular scanning NMR machine, the first of its kind in the world. It can not only make instant assessments of food quality and safety (no intrusion needed) but also signal about specific violations of production protocol. The researchers guarantee that tested products are not contaminated by the process in any way.
The possibilities of this new tech are basically endless – it can serve in food, chemical, construction and petroleum industries. Placing a scanner on an oil pipeline, for instance, can allow testing of the quality of the transported liquid. Current oil tests take up hours and even days, so the benefit is evident.
This research is funded by a Bortnik Fund grant. A small enterprise was established that will produce analyzers for product tests. Students, postgrads, and employees of the Department of Molecular Physics conduct lab tests to polish the scanners' work process. One of the promising directions is weak magnetic field tomograms. The development of this particular technology can help determine the distribution of compounds in specimens.
Engineer of the Institute of Physics Mikhail Doroginitsky says, “There is currently only one analogous device in the world, but it is approximately 100 times inferior in comparison with our scanner by its combined characteristics; and this keeping in mind that the prices are comparable”.
Interestingly enough, the analyzer was first devised for core salvage testing. Nobody remembers who first came up with the idea to put a milk bottle in the device. But the idea turned out to be fruitful, and further research yielded measurable results. Then other dairy products followed.
The principle is quite simple: molecular maps of tested products are compared with reference samples. Automated measurement system evaluates the comparisons and gives assessments on whether the tested specimen is of satisfactory quality. The assessment can be both verbal and signaling. The specimens must be 10 to 15 centimeters in width.