A team of chinese experts have invented a gutter oil detector, meant to be used by aothorities in order to prevent the use of the toxic oil in the food industry. According to MedicalNewsToday, the technique used is called laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS)and can distingush between gutter oil and edible cooking oil rapidly.
Professor Hongbin Ding and his research team at the Dalian University of Technology, in China, have created a device that can rapidly differentiate edible cooking oil from the oil that has been used several times while cooking, also known as gutter oil, or trench oil. They used a technique called laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS), the same technology used by the ChemCam of NASA’s Curiosity rover to analyze rocks.
The gutter oil detector features a high energy laser beam that transforms the sample of oil into plasma which, according to the oil’s composition, will emit a specific spectrum. Through analysis of the spectrum, the researchers can tell which plasma comes from gutter oil, and which from edible oil.
Illegal gutter oil use has been a persisting problem in China. According to stories in the Chinese press, one in ten restaurants use gutter oil. Not only that, but illegal traders use a number of techniques to make it look like regular, healthy, edible oil. They bleach it and add alkalis in order to neutralize the acidity.
Gutter oil is known to have serious effects on the health of both children and adults, causing liver and stomach illnesses and even raise the risk of cancer. Moreover, it can cause developmental problems in children and babies.