Easy and Safe Determination of Fatty Acids Using Spectrophotometric Technology

Chemistry was never my best subject, but the truth is that chemical compounds and scientific formulations are just a part of everyday life. Take, for example, the importance of fatty acids. These little chemical compounds are bound together in groups of threes to form a variety of oils and products that we use regularly. These trios of derived chemicals make up many of the fatty acids we depend on for a healthy eating, lubricating needs, and many of the soaps and detergents we use daily.

Omega-3 fatty acids
The determination of fatty acids through spectrophotometric analysis has many applications in foods, dietary supplements, lubricating products, and detergents and soaps.
Image Source: Flickr user Sam-Cat

Humans and animals alike require fatty acids, such as Omega -3s, as part of a healthy diet. Spectrophotometric determination of components such as these are needed for proper derivation, processing, and storage. Other fatty acids that are derived from both animal and plant-based sources also require the determination of acid value before meeting the quality standards needed for industrial use. Spectrophotometric technology offers a safe and easy alternative method of analysis for the determination of fatty acid in products, without the use of harsh chemicals and solvents. Using color technology the determination of fatty acids can be conducted safely, rapidly, and effectively.

Color analysis of chemical compounds

IR (infrared) spectrophotometry is a preferred and reliable method of analysis for the determination of fatty acids in both animal fats and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.  Fatty acid composition can be measured through infrared light absorption values and calculated using a comparison method in relation to the trans content levels. These measurements can be obtained through colorimetric differentiation using IR spectrophotometric technology, without the use of harsh chemicals and solvents. At lower levels of concentration, some of these concentration levels can “be directly detected by spectrometric analysis in the ultraviolet region (maximum absorbance at 260 nm) without any colour developer.” This new technology is preferred for its rapid, quantifiable, and non-destructive methods of analysis.

spectrophotometric technology
Fatty acids make up a variety of products we use daily. Through spectrophotometric methods of analysis, the determination of fatty acids can be achieved both rapidly and effectively.
Image Source: Flickr user United Soybean Board

Benefits of classification through spectrophotometric determination

Fatty acids can be derived through a variety of sources, and each of these markets depends on analysis in order to classify the various components of each product. For example, palm oil is one of the major oils and fats that is produced and traded throughout the world. The fatty acids of this product can be separated into two major derivatives; partial glycerides and non-glycerides. Classification through spectral analysis allows for each component to be applied to various industries, such as foods and detergents. These same methods can be applied to numerous other sources of fatty acids, which allows for the determination and classification of chemical components, as well through the use of spectrophotometric analysis.

spectrophotometric technology
Once broken down, fatty acid derivatives can be classified according to use through spectrophotometric analysis.
Image Source: Flickr user Kim

Quality control is another important factor in the analysis of fatty acids, especially for the processing and storage of edible oil products. Edible oils must undergo various stages of processing, which require constant monitoring of acid value ratios to ensure that the correct balance is maintained. When imbalances occur, it can result in a rancid smell and poor quality in both taste and appearance. Strict regulations apply to the processing and storage of such products, and many of these procedures require the regular use of colorimetric analysis through spectrophotometric technology.

Colorimetric analysis instrumentation

Spectrophotometry is a widely-used and highly-developed method for color analysis, and is used for a variety of industrial applications. For use in the determination of fatty acids, spectrophotometers provide a non-invasive and safe alternative when compared to other methods of analysis. Available in a variety of design features and sizes, instrumentation options can fulfill specific application needs according to product structure and usage.

HunterLab offers many spectrophotometric instrumentation options and our products are backed by more than 60 years of experience. Our friendly staff is available to answer all your questions and help you find the right tool to meet your specific need. Contact HunterLab to learn more about spectrophotometry for the determination of fatty acids today.

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