Analytical Chemistry – 4 Predictions for 2019

Martin Perkins

7th January 2019

Analytical, Breath Analysis, Chemistry, Emissions, Formaldehyde, Martin Perkins, Measurement, Pharmaceutical, Plastics, Polymers, Process, Science, Selected Ion Flow Tube Mass Spectrometry, SIFT-MS, VOC,

You can’t change or improve anything without making dependable chemical measurements, so to some degree, predictions in the World of Analytical Science are easy to make – you just have to follow the trends that are already visible.

  1. If you are not measuring formaldehyde now, you soon will be. Millions of tons of formaldehyde are produced annually, and traces can be found everywhere. Justified or not, an awareness of the potential health risks associated with formaldehyde is beginning to permeate the public consciousness. In 2019, the mainstream media will reflect and amplify people’s concerns, the internet will be vociferous and wildly inaccurate, and you will be asked to measure it with increasing frequency. The problem is that many existing methods are geared to the analysis of small numbers of samples. New technology will come to the rescue. *Cough*
  2. Process measurements will be a hot topic. The trend towards continuous manufacturing of products (pharmaceuticals for example) will in turn create a need for real-time, chemical measurements. Batch production can rely on conventional, lab based or at-line measurements, that take time to make. Continuous manufacturing calls for continuous measurements. New technologies (such as SIFT-MS) will begin to make this possible.
  3. The need to reduce VOC emissions from polymers will impact every industry. The demonization of plastics will continue, the demand for reusable, recyclable and biodegradable polymers will grow in concert and polymer analysis will grow with it.
  4. The full potential of breath analysis for healthcare will be realised. In 2019 we’ll start to see the benefits of growing datasets driven by the more effective and widespread use of instrumentation. Think breathalysers but for cancer. Side note: in looking further into this, I found that analysing breath goes as far back as Hippocrates. I can only assume the methodology was smelling the breath of pre-toothpaste Greeks. Lovely.

These are Element’s predictions concerning our corner of the World for 2019. What are yours?

Here’s to a Happy and Prosperous New Year!