Developing algae biofuel with mass spectrometry

As we become more concerned about the impact of climate change, it is becoming increasingly important to find renewable energy supplies and reduce the use of coal and crude oil. In order to reduce the use of non-renewable, harmful energy sources, scientists are continuing to develop biofuels. These plant-based fuels reduce the number of harmful substances released into the atmosphere including carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide. One developing source for biofuel comes from algae, a non-flowering, typically aquatic plant that has a large amount of chlorophyll allowing the conversion of energy through the process of photosynthesis. Algae contain natural oils that can be distilled into a number of petroleum-like products that can replace petrol, diesel and even jet fuel. Scientists are using high-resolution mass spectrometry to gain a better understanding of the composition of algae-produced biofuel, and whether the fuel can be used on a large scale to help reduce the use of fossil fuels.

Mass spectrometry was used on the liquid component extracted in algae-biofuel production as well as the solid mass by-product produced in the process. From the mass spectrum data generated, both the liquid and solid components contained high levels of nitrogen (N) and dinitrogen (N2) based components. It was also found the composition of the biofuel did not match the composition of typical crude oil products. However, the biofuel components were still combustible. A number of molecular formulae were derived through the high-resolution mass spec process; one formula derived included 1-tetradecyl-3-methylimidazolium (C18H35N2).

The research was carried out by a number of research groups throughout Russia and focused on the algae species Spirulina Platensis. To analyse the biofuel, scientists created two fractions through a special mass treatment method. Understanding the composition of algae-biofuel will allow production techniques to be changed from the current methods which are energetically unfavoured. Research has allowed a new method to be developed to extract the raw materials needed for biofuel production, hydrothermal liquefaction uses wet algae and reduces energy compared to the previous method which used heat to dry the algae.

With continued research into biofuels, the hope is that the use of harmful non-renewable energy sources will be reduced, combatting the detrimental effects of global warming and climate change. Momentum is gaining toward biofuels; last year Brazil acquired 40% of its energy through biofuel. However, many have criticised the farming for plant-based biofuel production; many believe the fertile land used to grow the plants used as raw material in biofuel would be more beneficial if used to grow crops for food consumption.  Algae offer a superior alternative as it does not take up land space as it can be cultivated in aquatic environments. It also absorbs carbon dioxide from the environment, helping reduce the greenhouse gas effect. Continuing to analyse algae-biofuel will improve efficiency of the production process, this should aid the replacement of fossil files by environmentally friendly biofuels.

Mass Spec Technology Solutions has years of experience delivering the latest innovation in mass spectrometry technology. Based in Manchester, they manufacture a number of laboratory equipment including mass spectrometry benches, nitrogen generators and noise suppression units. They pride themselves on their continuous investment into mass spec innovation and always deliver the best mass spectrometry services.

Furthermore, Mass Spec also offers a wide range of fully refurbished, serviced and warranted used mass spectrometry instruments at a fraction of the cost. All are installed to maker’s specification with upgrades available, a great addition to your MS lab.

For more information about any of our products or services, contact us here or call 0161 998 9219.



Mass Spectrometry in Modern Medicine

Mass spectrometry has long been used in medicine to give in-sight into disease development and to measure the success of new treatment pathways. However, with the complexity of samples increasing, mass spectrometer innovators must continue to develop mass spec analysis techniques in order to remain in the forefront of modern medicine. Experts at the American Society of Mass Spectrometry realise this challenge but state that accuracy and throughput must always remain the most important factors for instruments.

Precision medicine, the medical model which customises healthcare and medical decisions based on an individual patient, is rapidly being incorporated into everyday practise globally. With this, researchers using mass spectrometry analysis are continuing to be integrated into hospitals and healthcare networks.

Researchers are currently using LC/MS-based systems to help link the phenotype, easily measured by mass spectrometry, to the genotype discovered through next-generation sequencing. For this research to be used wide spread, techniques must be scalable whilst staying accurate and reliable. In addition, innovators are looking to automate mass spectrometry processes to remove human error where possible.

Within proteomics, users have requested the ability to accurately identify proteins, peptides, glycans and lipids as well as small molecules in a shorter amount of time. In addition, users requested higher sensitivity to allow in-depth research into the proteome with the ability to analyse more samples. Mass spectrometry innovators responded to these demands, recently Dr. Jesper V. Olsen was able to break the world record for the number of unique peptides identified within a minute with 1,100 peptides.

The challenge moving forward will be the analysis of the metabolome which gives more insight into the progression of diseases. Notoriously more complex than the proteome, a different separation technique will need to be developed to gain a full proteome map. Developments are currently being made in metabolomics workflows to streamline the process from raw sample to final results.

Mass Spec Technology Solutions Ltd is based in Manchester and the team has years of experience delivering mass spectrometry instruments. In addition, they also supply a range of laboratory equipment including nitrogen generators, lab benches and noise reduction units. They pride themselves on their continuous investment into mass spec innovation and always deliver the best mass spectrometry services.

Furthermore, Mass Spec also offers a wide range of fully refurbished, serviced and warranted used mass spectrometry instruments at a fraction of the cost. All are installed to maker’s specification with upgrades available, a great addition to your MS lab.

For more information about any of our products or services, contact us here or call 0161 998 9219.  


Mass Spec Technology Solutions wins service contract with The State Laboratory, Ireland

Mass Spec has been servicing the ‘Autospec’ at the State Laboratory, Dublin since September 2016.  Julie Tierney, Lab Manager adds “we are very pleased with the comprehensive level of service and training that we have received from Mass Spec to date.”

The Autospec is a complex, very expensive instrument requiring highly specialised skills to service, employed mainly for the precise analysis of dioxins. Dioxins are regarded as one of the most persistent, dangerous pollutants in the environment, produced from industrial processes – for example, steel manufacture, wood pulp processing, municipal waste incineration and other processes.  All agricultural food produce for export purposes must be monitored for its presence, otherwise importing countries will not buy it. Water also needs to be similarly monitored for safety. 

The State Laboratory is a designated EU National Reference Laboratory for residues of a wide range of veterinary medicines in food of animal origin; for additives for use in animal nutrition; for dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs); and for mycotoxins and heavy metals in animal feed. It has also been designated as the responsible Irish body for traceability of measurement in chemical metrology and bio-analysis.

Market leaders, Mass Spec Technology Solutions is pleased to say it provides service for nearly all of the Autospec instruments in the UK and now also has service contracts in Ireland and Belgium.

Water’s announcement that they will no longer continue the production of this truly unique instrument does not mean that environmental labs can no longer obtain a system.  Mass Spec installs, warrants and services fully refurbished Autospec instruments to the manufacturers’ original ‘Premier’ specification.  The Autospec is widely regarded as the best instrument for this exacting work and it can be found in most environmental laboratories monitoring dioxins world-wide.  

Mass Spec also provides component parts for the Autospec made at its Ashton works in Manchester which we ship all over the world.

Mass Spectrometry High Mass QToF Ultima

High Mass Upgrades from Mass Spec Technology Solutions Ltd

The growing interest of the research community in analysing large sets of proteins in biological samples is driving technological developments and a new demand of commercially available instruments for proteomics studies.

With many years’ experience in the manufacture and technical support of mass spectrometers, Mass Spec Technology Solutions Ltd is offering the Q-ToF High Mass Upgrade used in biological research which allows you to break up and see bigger proteins.

With the High Mass Upgrade you will be able to:

  • Select and acquire ions up to 30 000 m/z compared to the standard cut off of 4000 m/z. This means that large macromolecules such as GroEL which is 800 kDa can be analysed (data courtesy of the laboratorium of Albert Heck,Utrecht University).
  • Study large non-covalently bound complexes with maximum transmission and stability due to the fitting of a localised sleeve around the source hexapole.
  • Perform MS/MS experiments on large complexes even at high collision energies to attain the most amount of information.

The High Mass Upgrade package contains a new high mass rf generator and control board, pressure sleeve for the source hexapole and modifications to the gas cell to increase the collision gas pressure to allow full thermalisation of large macromolecules. The package is fitted by a specially trained engineer with a minimum of instrument downtime. No modification to software is necessary.

The High Mass Upgrade is available for all Waters Q-TOFs as well as Quattro LC & Ultima instruments.   This upgrade is also available on your QToF1, QToF 2 or QToF Ultima instrument. 

For more information click here or call 0161 9989 219 to speak to a member of our team.

World Class MS Service Engineers from Mass Spec Technology Solutions

Mass Spec Technology Solutions team is committed to providing fast, effective service at an affordable cost.  We provide a variety of service plans for the maintenance and repair of hi-tech scientific Mass Spectrometry products. We conduct repair work on analytical and clinical instrumentation and their accessories for a wide range of clients within the scientific sector.

Regular maintenance service enables maximum MS productivity and our engineers will visit you on site at your laboratory to guarantee improved performance and reliability, ensuring you achieve optimum return from your instruments in data quality, sample throughput and reliability.

Our experienced field team is backed by knowledgeable in-house support engineers which guarantees our client the best available service and support every time.  Our levels of service offer the following - providing onsite user training on defined product groups, ensuring all tools and test equipment is fit to perform the services required, call qualification with customers, breakdown and preventative service visits, full service of Mass Spectrometry Instrumentation with Gas and Liquid Chromatography, GCMS/LCMS. We will work with you to find the plan that best suits your individual Mass Spectrometry requirements.

We also carry a full stock of tested and warranted spare parts and components for most Waters/Micromass instruments available for immediate despatch.

For more information click here.


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