Fighting malaria with cocoa powder – XRF pellet preparation equipment
Dr Isaac Julius Asiedu-Gyekye has been working with several colleagues across the University of Ghana, including the School of Pharmacy, Legon. Together, they have been analyzing unsweetened natural cocoa powder (UNCP) for its potential in attenuating High Dose Artemether/Lumefantrine-Induced Hepatoxicity.
Dr Asiedu-Gyekye, et al, investigated UNCP’s effect on nitric oxide, its elemental composition and its hepatoprotective potential. This is important due to reportedly harmful side effects of the anti-malarial drug, Artemether/Lumefantrine (A/L), on the liver. Cocoa powder contains antioxidant polyphenols called avonols, which are reported to have liver-protective properties.
Using Energy-Dispersive X-Ray Fluorescence (EDXRF), unsweetened natural cocoa powder was analyzed before being supplied orally to thirty male guinea pigs under various dosages of Artemether/Lumefantrine. After subsequent euthanization, biochemical and histopathological examination was carried out.
A Manual Hydraulic Press that has been used by Sun Chemical Ltd for 30 years
For the XRF sample preparation, supermarket-bought UNCP was sieved in a 180 𝜇m sieve, cooked at 60°C overnight and weighed in triplicate. A binding powder was used, due to the loose morphology of the cocoa powder, this mixture was homogenized using a mill and then pressed using a 15 ton Specac Manual Hydraulic XRF Press
into 32 mm by 3 mm pellets. Time between XRF pelletization and measurement was kept short to avoid any deformation of the flat surface of the XRF pellets.
It was found that the cocoa powder increased nitric oxide levels and had hepatoprotective potential during the administration of A/L. However, a higher level of copper was observed, suggesting a detrimental effect of high daily UNCP consumption.
XRF pellet press– detecting carcinogenics in brake pads
Ole von Uexkull at Lund University, et al, proposed Antimony tri-sulfide (Sb2S3) is released as dust from brake pads, especially disc brakes. The particulate form of this substance has been described as posing a significant cancer risk if consumed, when released through friction (i.e. applying brakes).
Uexkull has suggested that, to prevent consumption of dangerous materials, manufacturers and control agencies apply the Intelligent Product System. This allows users to distinguish products of consumption (e.g. brake pads) from products of service (products which consist of materials that are not released to biological cycles, through use). Then composites of each can be controlled as safely appropriate.
In this study, Uexkull et al aimed to determine:
- if Sb is contained in modern brake pads and dust
- if brake dust generated through use is inhalable
- if Sb contained in brake dust is in the toxic form
Brake pads were removed from a selection of vehicles and ground with a 100g hammer (coated with 20 layers of paper to avoid direct contact). An agate mill was then used to homogenize the samples and the B filter pieces were washed and then sieved from water.
Energy-Dispersive X-Ray Fluorescence (EDXRF) analysis was used to determine the composition of all samples. The Specac 15-ton Manual Press was used as an XRF press, to compress samples into pellets ideal for XRF analysis.
This is a great example of a Specac hydraulic press being used to create XRF pellets.
Findings showed Sb present in the brake pads and in the brake pads’ dust (with more Sb present in the disc brake pad variants than drum brake pads). A significant amount of the dust was determined as inhalable and they also found other toxic metals in the pads and dust, however no asbestos fibers were found in dust, thankfully.