Reports on findings of hazardous substances in food products are nothing unusual these days: pesticides in fruit, arsenic in rice or toxic plant parts in tea, to name but a few. Therefore, permanent quality control is an indispensable tool of consumer protection. Apart from the actual food testing, sample preparation by homogenization is essential to obtain reliable results.
How to turn a laboratory sample into a representative part sample with homogeneous analytical fineness -
Food occurs in a great variety of consistencies and is often inhomogeneous. Food testing labs require representative samples to produce meaningful and reproducible analysis results. Therefore, food samples must be homogenized and pulverized to the required analytical fineness, ideally with as little time and effort as possible. Furthermore, reliable analytical results can only be obtained if the entire sample preparation process is carried out reproducibly.
Plastic is an inherent part of our everyday lives; it is used in a huge variety of things such as, for example, packaging, furniture, clothing or electronic devices. Though the utility of the material is undoubted, consumers are increasingly unsettled by recurring news about hazardous substances detected in plastics. Substances such as plasticizers, which are not firmly bound in the material, are absorbed via the skin and can influence the hormonal balance. Plasticizers contained in food packaging, for example, penetrate into the food and thus into the human body when the food is eaten. Plasticizers in toys are a particularly serious problem; children tend to take toys into their mouths thus absorbing the dangerous chemicals. Equally hazardous are polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). The family of PAH comprises more than 100 compounds most of which have been found to be carcinogenic.
The most common types of coal (lignite, bituminous and anthracite) are distinguished by their different chemical and physical properties. The calorific value of coal can be determined by analyzing its carbon content, for example with combustion analyzers. In addition, efficient management of the desulfurization plant requires control of the sulfur content. Compared to the large amount of coal a typical laboratory sample consists of - a 10 liter bucket or even more - the sample volume required for analysis is fairly low, only approx. 1 g. The standard DIN 51701 defines the sample amount to be tested as this relates to the particle size: The bigger the particles are, the more sample material is required.
Like all foodstuff, confectionery is subjected to strict quality controls. Parameters of interest are, for example, nutritional value, moisture or fat content, or the quantification of particular ingredients, such as vitamins or alkaloids. Typically, chromatographic methods like High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) are used to analyze food samples. Most analytical methods only require a few milligram or gram of sample; the previous size reduction/homogenization process ensures that the small analysis sample is representative of the entire laboratory sample, thus allowing for reproducible results. Moreover, homogenized samples show a much better extraction behavior.
Reliable and accurate analysis results can only be guaranteed by reproducible sample preparation. This consists of transforming a laboratory sample into a representative part sample with homogeneous analytical fineness. Retsch offers a comprehensive range of the most modern mills and crushers for coarse, fine and ultra-fine size reduction of almost any material. The product range also comprises a wide choice of grinding tools and accessories which helps to ensure contamination-free preparation of a great variety of sample materials. The selection of the correct grinding tool depends on the sample material and the subsequent method of analysis. Different grinding tools have different characteristics, such as required energy input, hardness or wear-resistance.
Considerable care must be taken when analyzing a sample like rice in order to achieve an accurate result. The major source of error when analyzing a bulk material comes not from the analytical measurement itself, but from the sample handling, i.e., sampling, sample division, grinding, digestion, etc.
Sample preparation of vegetable-based raw materials with laboratory mills
Thanks to the increasing usage of biomass as a source of energy, the analysis of these materials in the context of R&D and quality control gains importance, too. Due to the complex properties of plant materials, adequate sample preparation can be rather a challenge.
Use of laboratory grinders for size reduction of human bones and bioceramics
Bone implants and substances for bone regeneration are used in surgery to replace degenerated bone material by implants or to “re-build” it with specific substances. The material used in implants varies from autogeneic (supplied by the patient) through allogeneic (supplied by a donor) bones to replacement materials such as hydroxylapatite (HA) and tricalcium phosphate (TCP). Bovine bones and corals are used in conjunction with synthetically produced foamed materials to form a basis for the regeneration of bone substance. Various RETSCH mills are suitable for the preliminary and fine grinding of human bones as well as bioceramic materials.
In the analysis of solid material, the popular adage that “bigger is better” certainly does not apply. The goal is to produce particles that are sufficiently small to satisfy the requirements of the analysis while ensuring that the final sample accurately represents the original material. The “particles” of interest to the analyst generally range from 10 µm to 2mm. Additionally there are many application, where even finer sizes are needed. One example are active ingredients, where it is necessary to grind in the submicron range. Finally for DNA or RNA extraction mechanical cell lysis is well-established.
Materials differ widely in their composition and physical properties. Hence, there are many different grinding principles that can be applied, and this, together with other variables such as initial feed or “lump” size, fineness needed and amount of sample available, results in a wide range of models available to the researcher.
A variety of methods can be used to analyze solid materials. What they all have in common is the necessity to use a representative, homogeneous analysis sample which needs to have a particular fineness, depending on the analytical method used. The size reduction and homogenization of solids is usually carried out with laboratory crushers and grinders.
The prevention of environmental pollution is a prime issue of today’s industrialized societies. Important instruments in this context are regular checks using the latest analytical methods. Beside air and water analysis the focus is also on environmental remediation and declaration analyses as well as examination of soils, construction waste, sediments, secondary fuels and many more. Prevention and ecological recycling and disposal are the key words of a modern environmental policy. If the production of waste cannot be prevented, the primary objective is its material or energetic recycling. Residuals which cannot be recycled have to be disposed of in an ecologically friendly way.
A faultless and comparable analysis is closely linked to an accurate sample handling. Only a sample representative of the initial material can provide meaningful analysis results. Rotating dividers and rotary tube dividers are an important means to ensure the representativeness of a sample and thus the reproducibility of the analysis. Correct sample handling consequently minimizes the probability of a production stop due to incorrect analysis results. Thus correct sample handling is the key to effective quality control.
Due to decreasing resources and increasing market prices for primary fuels like oil, gas or coal, it is paramount for the cement industry to search for alternative energy sources. With regard to the CO2 emissions trading, a switch to energy sources which have a neutral CO2 balance can be rather profitable. Usually, these are non-fossil fuels. Industries with high energy consumption have made increasing use of alternative fuels during the last years. Accordingly, the use of so called secondary fuels (also waste derived fuels/wdf or refuse derived fuels/rdf) has gained importance. These are mostly combustible fractions of domestic or industrial waste which cannot be recycled.
With ever increasing socio-economic and geo-political demands, the use of secondary fuels in cement manufacture is a well-established practice for reducing both costs and CO2 emissions. The depletion of resources, combined with an increasing demand for primary fuels such as oil, gas or coal, make it paramount for energy consuming industries to search for alternative energy sources.
To produce high-quality cement, the mineralogical and chemical composition of raw materials as well as intermediate and finished products has to be determined. At each stage of the production, samples have to be taken, processed and analysed to ensure quality control without gaps. Retsch offers a range of instruments that are used for sample preparation during the complete production process, from the quarrying of the raw materials to the final product. The typical sample preparation process involves preliminary size reduction, sample division and fine size reduction before the sample can be submitted to further analyses....
The elemental analysis of plastics has become more and more important. EC directive 91/338/EWG regulates the ban of cadmium in PVC, EC directive 94/62/EC defines limits for cadmium, lead, chromium and mercury in packing materials and EC directive 2000/53/EC defines limits for the same elements in end-of-life vehicles. This has created a strong need for a rapid and reliable testing method.
Why Size Reduction? A reliable and accurate analysis can only be guaranteed by reproducible sample preparation. The "Art of Milling" describes the process of turning a laboratory sample into a representative part sample with homogeneous analytical fineness.