How Can NMR Spectroscopy Be Used To Identify Counterfeit Alcohol?

nmr spectrometer

Chemists play an integral role in drug discovery, a multi-billion dollar industry involving the discovery of new candidate medications. But chemistry can also be used to identify counterfeit goods using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR).

One of the most common types of counterfeit goods that can be identified by NMR spectroscopy is counterfeit alcohol. But what is counterfeit alcohol and how can NMR be used to identify it?

What is counterfeit alcohol?

Counterfeit alcohol isn't the same as a mocktail. Mocktails are replicas of alcoholic beverages, but without the alcohol included in the drink. Counterfeit alcohol is fake or illegally produced alcohol that is made from an unlicensed distillery.

Counterfeit alcohol can be dangerous because it's often made as cheaply and quickly as possible. In some cases, counterfeit alcohol producers have mixed methanol, indigestible alcohol compounds, and other chemicals with water as a way to cut the fermenting process short.

Methanol is an additive to solvents such as antifreeze and is deadly for human consumption. When ingested, counterfeit alcohol can cause many health issues and even death.

How can NMR spectroscopy identify counterfeit alcohol?

In the past, counterfeit alcohol has been identified through analytical methodologies and testing such as chromatography. In recent years, counterfeiters of alcohol have become more sophisticated. As a result, new analytical methods such as NMR spectroscopy have become necessary to identify these counterfeits.

NMR spectroscopy is capable of analyzing both food and drink because of its ability to analyze many different components without damaging the sample. When identifying a counterfeit, the NMR-analyzed samples are compared to the sample of an authentic alcoholic product.

NMR spectroscopy has also been used to detect harmful compounds in counterfeit alcohols such as methanol. NMR spectroscopy is a safer method for detecting counterfeit alcohols considering another alternative method of testing is taste analysis.

Researchers have found that counterfeit alcohols taste significantly different from authentic alcoholic products. However, if the counterfeit alcohol potentially has harmful chemicals in it such as methanol, NMR spectroscopy is the safer analytic method.

Where can I find a benchtop NMR spectrometer?

Whether you're looking for a benchtop NMR spectrometer or a portable NMR spectrometer for identifying counterfeit alcohol or for the classroom, Nanalysis has what you need. To learn more about NMR applications and our low field NMR spectrometers for sale, contact Nanalysis today.