James Giese

The Pittsburgh Conference, an annual meeting and exposition on laboratory equipment and chemical analysis, was held March 4–8, 2001, in New Orleans, La. The conference was attended by more than 22,000 conferees, exhibitors, students, and others. More than 1,400 technical presentations were made on various aspects of analytical chemistry. The following are descriptions of new products and news announcements of interest to food analytical chemists from this year’s exhibtions at PittCon.


PerkinElmer, Inc., 761 Main Ave., Norwalk, CT 06859-0010, announced at this year’s PittCon its intention to acquire Analytical Automation Specialists, Inc., a supplier of Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS). Analytical Automation Specialists produces a LIMS called LabWorks, which integrates information across virtually all brands of laboratory instrumentation. “The Labworks platform enhances our ability to provide an integrated, comprehensive solution for our life sciences and analytical instruments customers that includes instrumentation, software tools, consumables, and accessories,” said CEO Gregory L. Summe.

PerkinElmer also announced that it has become the exclusive distributor for the TravelIR portable Fourier-transform infrared (FT-IR) spectrometer, strengthening the company’s strategic partnership with SensIR Technologies, and expanding PerkinElmer’s presence in the FT-IR market. As part of this agreement, PerkinElmer will distribute the compact TravelIRT. This FT-IR system is designed for use outside the laboratory and allows users to perform on-site sample testing. SensIR Technologies, based in Danbury, Conn., designs, manufactures, and supports a range of FT-IR sampling technologies for commercial spectrometers.

PerkinElmer also introduced the AssureID materials checking system at the show. The company claimed the system enhances acompany’s bottom line by streamlining and strengthening product verification processes in pharmaceutical and dietary supplement quality assurance/quality control. The system combines software tools with compliance controls to help with method development. The materials checking system is available in both infrared and near infrared (IR/NIR) configurations, providing users with a rapid, nondestructive alternative to wet chemistry, reducing the cost of analysis.

By matching the QA workflow, the system is said to enable users to develop, validate, and run methods, even if they do not have access to spectroscopy experts or chemometricians. The system has a built-in spectroscopic knowledge base that helps to immunize the system against instrument, environmental, and sampling variability, making method development easier. It conforms to U.S. regulatory requirements, and offers validation assistance tools to help speed up the validation process. Additionally, specific systems contain pre-built protocols consisting of data libraries, chemometric models, instrument configurations, and analysis workflow capabilities.

--- PAGE BREAK ---

A new Web-based instrument and data management system that allows laboratory users to share data electronically and enables remote access to instrument data handling, was introduced by PerkinElmer Instruments. The Sombrilla system is said to enhance productivity and speed up critical decisions by providing increased communications capabilities and the ability to share results rapidly. The product allows multiple users to access analysis results and utilize the instruments’ data handling software through a secure Web interface, saving researchers time and facilitating communication between organizations and their customers. It also helps ensure laboratory interconnectivity, as it provides data viewing capabilities in a protected Internet data repository for information from any manufacturer’s instruments in any location. Advanced features allow users to access instrument data handling functionality and to monitor instrument systems remotely.

The TurboMass Gold Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS) system was launched by PerkinElmer Instruments. The new spectrometer is said to deliver the fastest scan rates available for quadrupole GC/MS. The instrument features a 1–1,200 Da mass range and a 105 dynamic range that allows users the performance necessary to execute difficult analyses in fields such as food and materials testing. The mass spectrometer can detect to the femtogram level and has selectable ionization capabilities. The new instrument may be combined with current headspace and thermal desorber units to provide a high level of sample throughput for environmental applications. It can perform both selected ion and full scan monitoring in a single run, allowing users to gain quantitative information while capturing searchable spectra.

Ohaus Corp., 29 Hanover Rd., Florham Park, NJ 07932, and a manufacturer of balances for the laboratory, education, industrial and specialty markets worldwide, introduced the new Adventurer Analytical balances. This new analytical balance is said to be an affordable unit designed to provide value and reliability. According to the company, the balance is priced at approximately 20% less than competitive analytical balances. Analytical balances feature many different weighing modes including kilograms, milligrams, ounces, mommes, mesghals, taels, and ticals. The balances are available in 65- and 210-g capacities, with a readability of 0.1 mg—enabling them to perform most laboratory applications. The balance comes equipped with a full-sized, 3-door draft shield to protect against environmental disturbances. The draft shield offers access from the top and either side, while providing maximum protection from drafts and other environmental factors. It features a standard bidirectional RS232 interface with selectable baud rates for communication with computers and other peripheral devices.

Ohaus also introduced a compact series of scales to its existing line of portable balances at the show. There are five models in the series. The three portable models range in capacities from 200 to 5,000 g, and are ideally suited for numerous professional and consumer applications including light production, field work, kitchen and office use. Ohaus also gave demonstrations of its new PalmTalk software application. Designed to facilitate communication between Ohaus electronic balances and PDA devices, the software allows users to download data directly from a balance to their PDA devices through most RS232 connections. It allows users to track and store laboratory data electronically without having a dedicated PC for every balance in the lab.

NDC Infrared Engineering Inc., 5314 N. Irwindale Ave., Irwindale, CA 91706, offered the MM710 near infrared (NIR) backscatter gauge. The unit, with measurement applications in snacks, starch, cereals, milk powders, infant food, coffee, chocolate, cocoa, biscuits, ingredients, potato flakes, tea, breadcrumbs, flour, refined sugar, nuts, and pasta dough, features dual detector referencing allowing detailed coverage of the infrared spectrum so that more robust calibration models can be used. Multi-constituent measurement allows the gauge to make up to four measurements. The unit is said to tolerate changes in lighting, product or ambient temperature and variations in relative humidity.

AppliedSensor, 400 Lanidex Plaza, Parsippany, NJ 07054, announced an addition to its product line of chemical sensors. The VOCcheck handheld sensor system allows for the on-site detection, analysis, and verification of volatile compounds, providing quality assurance for a variety of markets including chemical, food, and environmental industries. Weighing under a pound, the VOCcheck offers rapid response within 10 sec. The system allows for accurate duplication of reproducible information, which can be transferred from one device to another or directly to a PC.

--- PAGE BREAK ---

The system is powered by a rechargeable battery that provides 70 hr of standby time and up to 1,000 measurement cycles. Its backlit LCD display and durable construction allow for use in many different environments. The company was also offering the VOCmeter series. These meters can detect volatile compounds that exist, for example, in the packaging, pharmaceutical and chemical industries. AppliedSensor Group was formed when Nordic Sensor Technologies and MoTech Sensorik joined together.

Bruker Optics, 44 Manning Rd., Billerica, MA 01821, announced the launch of the Matrix-ET, for non-contact near-infrared emission measurements. The instrument is suited for applications where the sample is on a conveyor belt, web, and in general when having direct contact with the sample is not possible. According to the company, the unit is a robust in-line process instrument, which is insensitive to vibration and thermal shock. The system features an automated internal reference, 17-cm working distance and high signal-to-noise ratio, and large sample area desirable for heterogeneous samples. Potential applications include analysis of agricultural samples such as grains and bulk chemical powders.

Also on display at the Bruker booth was the Matrix-T. This is a compact, rugged spectrometer with a watertight housing and permanently aligned optics making it suitable for the most process environments. The unit may be used to analyze a wide range of chemical compounds in the food industry and with the development of industrially hardened probes and transmission cells, measurement can also be achieved under extreme conditions, i.e., pressures > 20 bar and temperatures > 200°C.

Bruker Optics also announced the formation of an alliance with ChemIcon Inc. to sell the Falcon Raman Chemical Imaging Microscope in industrial markets. The chemical imaging system is a dispersive Raman microscope that collects high-definition chemical images and vast amounts of material data in seconds. Chemical imaging is a materials characterization technique that combines molecular spectroscopy and digital imaging for the chemical analysis of a wide variety of sample types. It can provide a dramatic contrast enhancement for samples that have little visible contrast, while simultaneously providing chemical information for every pixel in the image. Chemical imaging is proving to be useful in areas as diverse as the investigation of biological systems and polymer structure analysis.

Brookfield Engineering Inc., 11 Commerce Blvd., Middleboro, MA 02346, exhibited their R/S Rheometer for controlled stress and controlled rate rheological measurements. The instrument may be used to measure the rheological properties of foods. The unit’s controlled stress/rate feature is said to make it easy to study a materials’ response from 0 shear up to rates of 4,800 sec–1. The unit is available in coaxial cylinder, cone/plate, or plate/plate configurations.

ThermoFinnigan, 355 River Oaks Pkwy., San Jose, CA 95134, introduced a new mass spectrometer. The LCQ DECA XP is an ultra-sensitive ion-trap mass spectrometer for research applications. These types of instruments may be used in applications such as protein characterization. Electrospray—ion trap mass spectrometry is said to be a particularly effective method for detailed characterization of protein oligosaccharides. This instrument features new orthogonal ESI and APCI probes which are said to reduce source contamination.

--- PAGE BREAK ---

Thermo Orion (formerly Orion Research, Inc.), 500 Cummings Center, Beverly, MA 01915, displayed pH, ion, conductivity, and dissolved oxygen meters, electrodes, and reagents for laboratory and field use. The company showcased the AQUAfast II, a new line of single wavelength colorimeters for water quality testing. These simple-to-use colorimeters were said to offer the user the maximum flexibility, while providing an economical choice for measuring chlorine, fluoride, ammonia, nitrate, nitrite, and turbidity in water samples.

The new Model 535A pH/ORP/Temperature Multi-Measurement System may be used to measure pH, ORP, and temperature from the same sample and view all results simultaneously, It has inputs for both traditional pH measurement via BNC connector or measurement of pH, ORP and temperature from a 13-pin connector. The meter can also utilize the Orion pHuture electrodes that can measure pH, ORP and temperature from one probe and in one solution simultaneously.

The new AS3000 XYZ Autosamplers are designed for use with 45 50-mL, 28 150-mL or 18 250-mL beakers. The unit can operate unattended. The probe arm assembly moves along the X, Y and Z-axes at speeds from 0 to 3.5 in/sec with full control of velocity and acceleration allowing for faster sampling and analyses.

Beckman Coulter, Inc., 4300 Harbor Blvd., Fullerton, CA 92834, demonstrated their new Span-8, eight-channel pipettor. The new pipettor has a span range from 9 to 20 mm, making it useful for both tube and microplate applications. Each pipettor channel has independent volume control, up and down motion, and liquid level sensing. The pipettor uses fixed or disposable tips, or both, and tips can be easily interchanged. The ability to access single wells and tubes enables automation of applications such as serial dilution and hit picking for secondary screening. The new pipettor can be used in a stand-alone configuration or integrated with either a 96-channel or the new 384-channel head. This combination of liquid handling methodologies allows transfers from any format to any format from tubes all the way up to 1,536-well plates.

Cole-Parmer Instrument Co., 625 E. Bunker Court, Vernon Hills, IL 60061, exhibited a new Digi-Sense thermometer. This thermometer combines temperature measurement with data-logging capability. The user can log up to 1,000 readings in real time. The data-logging feature allows users to capture data in the lab or field for later viewing or documentation. The thermometer features a log interval selectable from 1 to 60 sec. A built-in stand allows for bench-top use. The company also introduced the new pH/Con 510 meter. This meter is said to be an economical way to measure pH, mV, conductivity, TDS, and temperature in the laboratory. It features push-button operation and a large dual display of pH, conductivity, or TDS plus temperature. Other features include a pH auto-buffer recognition, selectable °F/°C, and water-resistant membrane keypad.

Dionex Corp., 1228 Titan Way, Sunnyvale, CA 94088, introduced a new ion analyzer for inorganic anions and cations. The DX-80 Ion Analyzer is said to provide exceptional ease-of-use and an extremely compact design. According to the company, the analyzer allows users to achieve the benefits of separation-based analyses—fast, sensitive, multi-species determinations with freedom from interference associated with wet chemical techniques. It may be configured for either anion or cation analyses, and is controlled via Windows-based software.

--- PAGE BREAK ---

Mettler-Toledo, 1900 Polaris Pkwy., Columbus, OH 43240, introduced a new line of analytical balances which consisted of 12 ultra-high resolution models with weighing ranges from 2.1 g to 510 g. Touch screen operation provides individual configurations, and up to eight user menus or methods can be stored with individually personalized designations. The company also introduced its new Rondo 60 sample changer that is said to provide seamless automation of the titration procedure, including sample transport and preparation, resulting in improved reproducibility and more precise results. The unit is said to be highly adaptable to a wide variety of applications and provides higher sample throughput. The standard configuration can be expanded with a variety of accessories as user requirements change or become more specialized. For example, by employing two movable titration towers, parallel titration as well as complex sample preparations can be accomplished.

IQ Scientific Instruments, Inc., 11021 Via Frontera, San Diego, CA 92127, exhibited the IQ400 pH system. The system is both a pH meter and handheld computer. The meter accepts traditional glass electrodes and non-glass ISFET technology pH probes. The meter is said to be easy to use and features touch screens, pop-up windows, and on-screen troubleshooting guides for each function. The “eDoodle,” a virtual sticky note, allows the user to save handwritten notes and sketches with pH readings. Users can run all Palm OS applications, such as scientific calculators and spreadsheets. The instrument features high- and low-pH level alerts, calibration alarms, buffer recognition, and temperature compensation. Data can be hot-synched to a PC.

Netzsch Inc., 37 Industrial Blvd., Paoli, PA 19301, introduced a new differential scanning calorimeter, the DSC 200 PC Phox. The new system may be used to determine oxidative stability, melting points, glass transition temperatures, and other heat-flow behaviors of materials from -150 to 600°C. The instrument features user-exchangeable sensors, automatic gas switching, and controlled cooling capability.

Air Products, 7201 Hamilton Blvd., Allentown, PA 18195, offered their new, patented Built-In-Purifier (BIP) system. This system, consisting of a purifier built into the compressed gas cylinder, is said to ensure consistent, ultra-high-purity helium or nitrogen gas containing less than 10 ppb of oxygen and 20 ppb of water. These specifications can be compared to traditional highest grade of helium (research grade) that is guaranteed only to the less-than-1,000 and less-than-200 ppb levels, respectively. The technology was developed for gas chromatography and other specialized applications requiring exceptionally pure and consistent helium.

Next year’s PittCon 2002 is scheduled to take place March 17-22, 2002, in New Orleans, La. More information on this year’s conference or the upcoming PittCon 2002 is available at www.pittcon.org.

Internet Editor