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Knowledge of the composition of polymeric food contact and other materials is paramount for understanding their performance and properties. Although there are a wide variety of analytical techniques available for studying composition, successful analysis requires an in-depth knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of the various techniques and how they can each add value to the analysis.


The consultancy offers clients bespoke analytical services, which can include help with interpretation of data.


Typical client requests include identifying and characterising plastics, elastomeric materials and coatings, studies on antioxidants and UV stabilisers, foreign body examinations and surface analysis. All analytical studies are undertaken in collaboration with approved specialist laboratories.


Services Offered:


Identification and Characterisation of Polymeric Materials

  • Infrared spectroscopy (FTIR)

  • Raman spectroscopy

  • Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR)

  • Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC)

Bulk Composition Analysis

  • Thermogravimetry (TGA)

  • X-ray fluorescence (XRF)

  • Elemental analysis (ICP and AA)

Additive Analysis

  • Combined liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry (LC/MS and LC/MS/MS)

  • Combined gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS and GC/MS/MS)

Surface Analysis

  • Time of flight, secondary ion mass spectrometry (ToFSIMS)

  • X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS)

Contaminant Analysis

  • Infrared microspectrometry

  • Optical microscopy

  • Scanning electron microscopy with elemental analysis (SEM/EDA)

Polymer Characterisation

  • Molecular weight distribution by gel permeation chromatography (size exclusion chromatography) using solvents such as hexafluoroisopropanol for polymers such as Acetal (polyformaldehyde) and PEEK (polyether ether ketone), and 1,2,4 trichlorobenzene for polyolefins (polyethylene, polypropylene etc.).

  • Melt rheology (melt viscosity), particularly suitable for studying processing chracteristics.


Publications on Polymer Analysis:


SIDWELL, J.A. “AdditiveAnalysis”, Chapter 14, in Wilson & Wilson’s Comprehensive Analytical Chemistry Edited by D. Barcelo, 2008 Volume 53, Molecular Characterization and Analysis of Polymers, co-editors John Chalmers and Robert Meier, Elsevier

SIDWELL J.A. “Developments in Additives Analysis – an update”, Addcon 2008, Barcelona, Oct 2008, Smithers Rapra, Paper 19.

SIDWELL, J.A. "Examination of extractables from plastic and rubber components of medical products by GC-MS and LC-MS," Paper 8, Medical Polymers, Dublin, April 2003 Conference Proceedings, Rapra Technology Ltd

SIDWELL J.A.“The Rapra Collection of Infrared Spectra of Rubbers, Plastics and Thermoplastic Elastomers” 1st and 2nd editions.

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