Monday, 16 September 2013

Plumpton College gets a touch of Formula 1

Courtesy of our new Randox Monaco analyzer.

Randox Monaco Analyzer

We have had a Randox Daytona previously, but this year we are exchanging our clinical unit for the newly released food-dedicated Monaco machine.  These units are great as they allow high-quality enzyme based analysis to be done on wine samples with a minimum of fuss.

Enzyme-based analysis have been a boon for the wine industry, allowing the measurement of specific wine components without interference from other compounds present in wine.  For example many wineries measure titratable acidity, but can't tell exactly what types and quantities of acid make up this reading.  However with enzyme analysis it is possible to measure exactly how much lactic, acetic, citric, malic a wine actually has.  

They work because enzymes generally catalyze only one specific reaction, so adding that enzyme will consume all the key compound without reacting with anything else.  However that in itself would be no good unless we can also measure what the product of reaction is.  Luckily the enzyme-based reactions cause the formation of the redox  biochemical NADH (Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide), which cause UV light to be absorbed at 340nm.  We can measure how much absorbance occurs and from this calculate how much malic acid we had to start.  

NAD+/NADH absorbance (wikimedia commons)

Traditionally this was done in laboratory by lab staff using small reagent kits and micro-pipettes, which can be expensive and fiddly to get right.

The Monaco automates this process, using tiny amounts of both sample and enzyme reagents and getting results with more precision.  Once the unit is commissioned we hope to measure the following compounds, quickly and easily.
  • Lactic acid 
  • Malic acid 
  • Acetic acid 
  • Glucose & Fructose 
  • Ammonium ions
  • Amino acids 

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