Less oily, tastes great

Sept. 13, 2001
The Model 6890N gas chromatograph from Agilent Technologies.

The Model 6890N gas chromatograph from Agilent Technologies.

Excess fusel oils in cola, whiskey, gin, rum, or brandy produce off-flavors and worse hangovers for consumers. But a new gas chromatograph (GC) from Agilent Technologies, Wilmington, Del., lets bottlers and distillers accurately measure levels of these elementalorganic compounds during production.

Metering samples into the GC is a Pneutronics VSO proportional valve from Parker Hannifin Corp., Hollis, N.H. The VSO is an analytically clean valve that compensates for temperature variations by virtue of a high spring rate and low plunger mass.

After passing through the valve, the sample is heated to vapor and carried by a helium gas stream to an oven. The oven contains a narrow capillary column coated with a special material. The programmed oven temperature is maintained at around 400°C with ramps to 450°C to prevent condensation. The compounds get absorbed along the column wall and are released in time according to their relative affinities for the special material. Data from a detector at the column exit goes to a desktop computer with software that generates a chromatograph for characterizing sample components.

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