What I want to do
Aim: Create a DIY protocol for lycopene extraction that can use the Desktop spectrometer to identify and - hopefully - quantify the amount of lycopene extracted.
My attempt and results
Method: Test protocols with lab grade and household reagents. Run liquids through lab UV spectrometer and Desktop Spectrometer V3. 5g tomato paste, 25 ml solvent, stirred for 1 hour in a beaker, filtered through grade 1 filter paper
Test 1: Extraction using methanol - Methanol + acetic acid 1:1 5g tomato paste, 25 ml solvent - Methanol 5g tomato paste, 25 ml solvent
-- UV spectrum did not match lycopene (image coming)
Test 2: Extraction using diethyl ether. UV spectrum matched lycopene (see image). Desktop Spectrometer V3 spectrum matched lycopene, but with not so clear definition in peaks.
Test 3: Extraction using engine starter fluid (mixture of hexane and ether) UV spectrum matched lycopene (see image). Desktop Spectrometer V3 spectrum matched lycopene, but with not so clear definition in peaks.
It looks like the engine starter fluid is not as effective as the pure diethyl ether at extracting the lycopene from tomato paste.
Questions and next steps
1) Try to quantify amounts from the UV and Desktop Spectrometer spectra 2) What changes to the protocol would result in complete extraction? Is this achievable? 3) Try to purify the engine starter fluid to get pure ether - is this achievable and safe outside of a lab environment?
Why I'm interested
To generate reliable protocols that can be used to answer questions about the lycopene content in food with valid results, outside of a lab.
I'm developing these protocols as part of a much larger project looking at a multiple knowledges / subversive knowledge production approach to food, supported by the London Creative Network and UCL. The first output will be an undergraduate course in January 2017 that tests these approaches with a London community.