May 11, 2007

Analytical Chemist

A common request in a manufacturing laboratory is identification of some kind of dark-colored liquid goo drained from a pipe or found puddled under equipment. If you can't ID it from experience, run these 3 tests first:

  1. Drop a magnet into the muck, swirl it around, and pull it back out; this determines if there is any metal in the sample.
  2. Draw some of the liquid into a syringe and pass it through a submicron filter; this determines if the goo is dissolved in the liquid or suspended in it.
  3. Transfer a few milliliters of the liquid into a vial and add an equal amount of water to it; this determines if the material is liquid-soluble.

Having made these three determinations, you can usually work with the client to ID the mystery substance.

-- Jeff

Posted by Matthew at May 11, 2007 9:19 AM