Analyzing food and beverages with magnetic levitation

Jun 23, 2010
Foods and beverages, such as cheese and milk, may be tested for their fat content in the future with a new sensor that uses magnetic levitation, or "maglev," the technology that allows high-speed trains to float above the tracks.

Scientists are reporting development of a new use for magnetic levitation, or "maglev," the futuristic technology best known for enabling high-speed passenger trains to float above the tracks. In ACS' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, they describe putting maglev to use in an inexpensive sensor for analyzing food, water, and other beverages.

George Whitesides and colleagues note that measurements of a substance's density are important in the industry, health care, and other settings because they provide key information about a substance's . Density measurements, for instance, can determine the sugar content of soft drinks, the amount of alcohol in wine, or whether contains too much salt to use on a farmer's field. Existing devices for making those measurements are far from ideal, and a need exists for simpler, less expensive, easy-to-use technology.

The scientists describe development of a special sensor that uses maglev to meet those needs, suspending solid or liquid samples with the aid of magnets to measure their density. About the size of an ice cube, the sensor consists of a fluid-filled container with magnets at each end. Samples of different materials can be placed inside, and the distance they migrate through the fluid provides a measure of their density.

The scientists showed that the device could quickly estimate the salt content of different water samples and the relative fat content in different kinds of milk, cheese, and peanut butter. "Potential applications of maglev may include evaluating the suitability of for drinking or irrigation, assessing the content of fat in foods and beverages, or monitoring processing of grains (e.g., removing husk or drying)," the article notes.

Explore further: Nano-sized chip "sniffs out" explosives far better than trained dogs

More information: "Magnetic Levitation in the Analysis of Foods and Water", Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Measuring the density of ultra-pure water

Dec 18, 2007

For oceanography – and there in particular for the description of ocean currents – accurate measurements of the density of sea water are of great importance. For this purpose, measuring instruments are ...

New test for detecting fake organic milk

Mar 02, 2009

Scientists in Germany are reporting development of a new, more effective method to determine whether milk marketed as "organic" is genuine or just ordinary milk mislabeled to hoodwink consumers. Their report ...

Benzene concentrations in beverages

Jan 07, 2008

Only nine percent of 199 beverage samples had benzene levels above the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) limit of 5 parts per billion (ppb) for benzene in drinking water, according to a study by ...

Recommended for you

A new approach to creating organic zeolites

27 minutes ago

Yushan Yan, Distinguished Professor of Engineering at the University of Delaware, is known worldwide for using nanomaterials to solve problems in energy engineering, environmental sustainability and electronics.

A tree may have the answers to renewable energy

20 hours ago

Through an energy conversion process that mimics that of a tree, a University of Wisconsin-Madison materials scientist is making strides in renewable energy technologies for producing hydrogen.

User comments : 0