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Portable viscosimeter for anti-counterfering of oils

capillary dynamicshydrophobinMicrofluidicsoil analysisviscometer

Introduction

The present invention represents an inexpensive, portable, easy to use and disposable capillary viscometer to monitor the quality of oil “on field” (for example, in restaurants or other public places). It is  a valid alternative to the expensive and less rapid traditional systems, ideal for preventing anti-counterfeiting and to validate the quality of the oils.

Technical features

Viscosity is a parameter of particular relevance in the agroalimental field, that significantly differs among edible vegetable oils as a function of their origin, of the cultivar, or of their use for food applications. Lab on chips (LoCs) represent a very fascinating technology to produce microscale analytical systems. Based on the capillary forces, microfluidic LOCs are tools for producing low cost, easy‐to‐use, portable and accurate viscometers. The microfluidic viscometer calculates viscosity values of pure oils from re‐elaboration of the capillary dynamics data with an error lower than 1%. It allows the acquisition of a single capillary curve (even in case of not refined oils) in less than 100 s, starting from 50 microliters of sample in a viscosity range of 1-1000 cP. Furthermore, it is possible to discriminate between pure oils and mixtures by performing an accurate fit of the curve at constant capillary pressure which is not possible using commercial viscometers.
Further we are exploiting the viscosimeter as a tool for monitoring mineral oil quality in industrial processes.

Possible Applications

The microfluidic viscometer could be used for anti-counterfeiting of edible oils from:

  • Anti-sophistication nuclei (NAS, ASL, …);
  • Consumer associations (such as Coldiretti);
  • Large retailers or producers of oils for checks along the supply chain.

Advantages

  • Small, cheap and easy to use.
  • Allows to discriminate pure oils from blended oils and their degree of use
  • Analysis in real time;
  • Portable for on field analysis;
  • Uses very small volumes of fluid, without a reference sample.