Portable sensor selectively considered the concentration of methanol and ethanol

Portable sensor for methanol compatible with a smartphone, allows you to quickly and accurately determine its concentration in alcoholic drink at home. As stated in the article Nature Food, the ability to consistently and selectively measure the concentration of methanol and ethanol in the gas mixture, as well as testing on actual alcoholic beverages allocates this device to the background of his predecessors. The app on your smartphone will tell you if a dangerous concentration of methanol in a particular drink depending on the concentration of ethanol.

Over 2017-2019 about seven thousand people worldwide (mostly in Asia) have been in hospitals due to methanol poisoning. Even more than 1888 people have died due to the ingress of methanol in the body by use of surrogate alcoholic beverages, where the concentration of methanol exceeded the permissible limits. In, according to Rospotrebnadzor, is fixed each year, approximately 1200 cases of acute methanol poisoning, of which 80 percent are fatal. However, not all the methanol is in intoxicating drinks because of malice: during fermentation of pectin occurring in the production of fruit spirits is allocated up to 1100 grams of methanol per 100 liters of wine. For violation of technology of distillation (distillation) of fruit alcohol, the volume fraction of methanol can be up to 2.4 volume percent, while unscrupulous manufacturers can reduce the cost of production intentionally added to alcoholic beverages methanol.

The danger of methanol when used is lethal synthesis — the formation of highly toxic compounds of low toxicity. The methanol acts directly on the Central nervous system, causing rapid alcohol intoxication (literally a few minutes), and its dangerous metabolites formaldehyde and formic acid — disturb processes of tissue respiration and shift of blood pH to the acid side. Under these conditions there is swelling of brain structures, which compresses the optic nerve, causing develop visual disturbances up to blindness. According to various sources the death occurs at the one-time use 30-100 ml of methanol. The antidote for poisoning with methanol, ethanol acts: the affinity of alcohol dehydrogenase — an enzyme responsible for the metabolism of alcohol in the organism to ethyl alcohol of 7-9 times higher than methyl, therefore, the enzyme begins to interact with the ethanol and the methanol is excreted unchanged.

Today for the determination of methanol in liquids chromatography is used, however it is solely a laboratory method. More compact gas sensors, such as fluorescent silica gel plate doped with aluminum or nanofibers of Nickel oxide, detects methanol in the gas mixture over drinks, but can be unreliable due to insufficient detection limits and the inability to distinguish methanol from ethanol background. Moreover, such sensors are not officially tested on these alcoholic beverages. This problem was tried to solve a group of engineers under the leadership of Sebastian Abegg (Abegg Sebastian) from the Federal Institute of technology Zurich, creating portable sensor to methanol and ethanol with the function of quantification of both alcohols with preliminary separation from the gas mixture.

The principle of the device is as follows: with a pump a sample of air from the upper space of the container enters the column with a porous polymer based on 2,6-differencia, which temporarily hold methanol and ethanol. Methanol is released first and reaches a maximum on the sensor after 1.5 minutes, ethanol begins to be freed later (a 1.9 minutes for a rum Stroh and 3.8 minutes for a beer). High sensitivity sensor based on flame-deposited nanoparticles of tin dioxide doped with palladium, detects both chemical substances sequentially, and hence selective. Simultaneous quantification of methanol and ethanol is critical, because established norms allowed the concentration and degree of toxicity of methanol is independent of the concentration of ethanol. The device broadcasts the measurements to the smartphone via WI-FI or Bluetooth, the app displays the concentration of ethanol and methanol in real time. The app is compatible with Android and iOS systems

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