Nav: Home

Using espresso machines to do chemistry

June 15, 2016

Many chemists are familiar with taking trips to the espresso machine while running late-night experiments, but until now these excursions were merely undertaken for the caffeine boost. A group recently reported in ACS' Analytical Chemistry, however, that espresso machines can quickly and inexpensively perform some complex chemistry experiments, such as testing for harmful compounds in the environment.

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are a class of carcinogenic organic compounds that are ubiquitous in the environment. They are generated by incomplete combustion of materials in forest fires, industrial plants and waste incinerators. To determine the levels of PAHs in soil and sediment, researchers first extract the compounds from a sample, a step that can take up to 16 hours and requires large amounts of hazardous solvents. Newer techniques that use high temperatures are faster and need much less solvent, but they require pricey lab equipment. So Francesc A. Esteve-Turrillas and colleagues set out to determine whether an espresso machine--which quickly runs hot liquid through a small amount of coffee, or in this case, soil--could efficiently extract PAHs for further analysis.

The group percolated a soil sample in an espresso machine with a small amount of organic solvent and water. The extracted sample was then analyzed with a standard chromatography procedure to determine the amount of PAHs present. All told, the process takes only 11 seconds. The results from the espresso procedure were comparable to those obtained with certified techniques, but the new process was significantly less expensive and faster. The researchers say that this study shows that espresso makers can be used as low-cost alternatives in chemistry labs. They are currently testing to see whether these machines can extract and analyze pesticides, pharmaceuticals and detergents in food and environmental samples.
-end-
The researchers acknowledge funding from Spain's Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness and the Generalitat Valenciana (government of Valencia).

The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With nearly 157,000 members, ACS is the world's largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

To automatically receive news releases from the American Chemical Society, contact newsroom@acs.org.

Follow us: TwitterFacebook

American Chemical Society

Related Chemistry Articles:

Better chemistry through tiny antennae
A research team at The University of Tokyo has developed a new method for actively controlling the breaking of chemical bonds by shining infrared lasers on tiny antennae.
Chemistry in motion
For the first time, researchers have managed to view previously inaccessible details of certain chemical processes.
Researchers enrich silver chemistry
Researchers from Russia and Saudi Arabia have proposed an efficient method for obtaining fundamental data necessary for understanding chemical and physical processes involving substances in the gaseous state.
The chemistry behind kibble (video)
Have you ever thought about how strange it is that dogs eat these dry, weird-smelling bits of food for their entire lives and never get sick of them?
Top 10 chemistry start-ups
Starting a new chemistry-based company is one part discovery, one part risk.
Biomimetic chemistry: Carbohydrate capture
LMU chemists have designed and synthesized a helical molecule that specifically recognizes and binds to a disaccharide consisting of two five-carbon sugar units.
Reining in soil's nitrogen chemistry
The compound urea is currently the most popular nitrogen soil fertilizer.
Taking a closer look at 'electrifying' chemistry
With the increasing availability of electrical energy from renewable sources, it will be possible in the future to drive many chemical processes using an electric current.
The changing chemistry of the Amazonian atmosphere
Researchers have been debating whether nitrogen oxides (NOx) can affect levels of OH radicals in a pristine atmosphere but quantifying that relationship has been difficult.
The chemistry of Hollywood bloodbaths (video)
Fake blood is a staple of the Halloween horror film experience, but there's no one recipe to suit every filmmaker's needs.
More Chemistry News and Chemistry Current Events

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2019.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

In & Out Of Love
We think of love as a mysterious, unknowable force. Something that happens to us. But what if we could control it? This hour, TED speakers on whether we can decide to fall in — and out of — love. Guests include writer Mandy Len Catron, biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, musician Dessa, One Love CEO Katie Hood, and psychologist Guy Winch.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#542 Climate Doomsday
Have you heard? Climate change. We did it. And it's bad. It's going to be worse. We are already suffering the effects of it in many ways. How should we TALK about the dangers we are facing, though? Should we get people good and scared? Or give them hope? Or both? Host Bethany Brookshire talks with David Wallace-Wells and Sheril Kirschenbaum to find out. This episode is hosted by Bethany Brookshire, science writer from Science News. Related links: Why Climate Disasters Might Not Boost Public Engagement on Climate Change on The New York Times by Andrew Revkin The other kind...
Now Playing: Radiolab

An Announcement from Radiolab