Dr Jeroen Geuens is a member of the Centre of Expertise on Sustainable Chemistry (CESC) based in Antwerp at the Karel de Grote University College. The Centre specialises in research and services related to chemical and production processes together with offering professional degree courses.
Before discovering the Spinsolve benchtop NMR from Magritek they could only get access to NMR measurements by taking their samples to the University of Antwerp. The Spinsolve is now used continuously for both teaching and research in the CESC. Dr Geuens takes up the story.
“In teaching, our 2nd and 3rd year students (professional bachelor in chemistry) are using the Spinsolve during their lab sessions for organic chemistry. They synthesize organic molecules such as tertiary butyl chloride, aspirin, and isopentyl acetate. They purify their products and then analyze them using NMR and FTIR. In total, approximately 80 students are using the Spinsolve during the organic chemistry lab each year. For research, CESC is studying the valorization of organic waste streams. The standard treatment procedure for an unknown waste sample is accelerated solvent extraction (ASE) using solvents with different polarities. After the solvent is evaporated, the different fractions are analyzed by means of NMR, FTIR, and GC-MS. There are also three oleochemical projects running, i.e. projects concerning vegetable oils. For these projects, we implemented a method to determine the iodine value of an oil with the Spinsolve. The standard method to measure the iodine value implies a titration using the Hanus iodine solution which has to be prepared fresh. Moreover, a standard solution of Na2S2O3 is needed as well as glacial acetic acid which all takes considerable time. When using the Spinsolve, no solvents or chemicals are needed. The only thing you have to do is put the oil in a NMR tube, keep yourself busy for 21 minutes, and return to the apparatus for the result.”
Ease of use is very important in the teaching environment as Dr Geuens describes:
“The Spinsolve is easy to use and sample preparation is simple: liquid samples can be measured right away, solid samples are dissolved and then measured. Deuterated solvents are only needed if the concentration of your sample in the solvent is very low. Most of the time we use non-deuterated water or chloroform to dissolve our solid samples. Standard H-NMR measurements are fast (1 min), meaning 15 students can measure their samples at the end of their experiments without having a queue at the Spinsolve apparatus. For research purposes, we combine NMR with FTIR and GC-MS. The students only use NMR and FTIR since GC-MS measurements take too much time to perform.”