[Noisebridge-discuss] Know anyone with a gas chromatograph/spectrograph and/or able to measure caloric levels in alcohol?

Sean Cusack sean.p.cusack at gmail.com
Wed Sep 14 00:48:36 UTC 2011

Gian -

I may be able to help on either.

For the GC stuff - what exactly is he trying to measure? There is only one
methyl alcohol :). Does he want a ratio of methyl:ethyl, or a weight
percentage of methyl in the mix? How important is it that its *just* methyl
alcohol? Like, if there are tiny bits of ether in there, does he care? What
kind of precision is needed? Sorry for the barrage of questions, there are
lots of different solutions, and lots of different levels of complexity
depending on what exactly the experiment needs are, and what exactly you
think is in the sample. Unfortunately, GCs don't really work the way they
appear on CSI :). I've got access to several technologies. Depending on
needs, I may be able to help out.

Same kinds of questions for part 2. To measure *calories* of something, you
use a *calorimeter* (I'm serious). There's lots of variants. As a
technology, all calorimeters are designed to measure heat input/output (heat
is not the same as temperature, so you can't use just one thermometer.
Calorimeters use a system of thermometers and very carefully machined
equipment so you can calculate a thermal mass, and using some phyzzzzax
wizardry, get a heat flow). Calorimeters all do it a little differently
based on what you are trying to measure and what kind of precision you need.
Does he have any idea how precise this number needs to be? I've got access
to a bomb calorimeter, which could be OK. However, if he wants to know
calories to a single digit, (i.e. 273 kcal instead of 274), he'll probably
need to use a low-phi calorimeter...which I don't have access to.


On Tue, Sep 13, 2011 at 5:19 PM, Jonathan Lassoff <jof at thejof.com> wrote:

> On Tue, Sep 13, 2011 at 5:07 PM, Gian Pablo Villamil <gian.pablo at gmail.com
> > wrote:
>> Hey, a friend of mine is doing an interesting project involving measuring
>> stats for different kinds of alcoholic beverages, I was wondering if there
>> was anyone in the NB community who might be interested/qualified/equipped
>> for this.
>> The first thing is measuring the levels of methyl alcohols in different
>> spirits, for which apparently a gas chromatograph or spectrograph is needed.
>> Anyone here have one of those, or know someone who does/has access to one?
>> The second thing is measuring the caloric levels in different spirits. Not
>> sure how this is done. Anyone out there qualified to do this? (I think
>> drinking the stuff and then weighing yourself is probably not precise
>> enough).
> I'm curious to know how that's measured as well.
> Perhaps extracting all of the glucose from it, and combusting it in a
> sealed container in conductive contact with some water and measuring how
> much it's heated?
> --j
>> If you can do the first and/or second things there is a paid gig in this.
>> Let me know...
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