Automation of analytical procedures for mycotoxins, acrylamide, aldehydes and NDMA using Tecan Fluent 1080 automation workstation system
Mycotoxins, acrylamide, aldehydes and N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) are constituents included on the FDA "Harmful and Potentially Harmful Constituents in Tobacco Products and Tobacco Smoke: Established List" and considered as large volume analyses at many tobacco industry laboratories. However, the analytical procedures for these analytes are time-consuming and difficult, involving analytical steps, such as derivatization (aldehydes) or solid-phase extraction (SPE) clean-up (acrylamide, mycotoxins). To increase the throughput and reduce the labour-intensive manual steps in an analytical procedure, parts or the whole analytical procedure can be automated.
Here, we present the automation of analytical procedures for mycotoxins, acrylamide, aldehydes and NDMA using Tecan Fluent 1080 (Tecan Group Ltd.) automation work-station system. The system is custom-built to meet our needs. It has an orbital shaker with 96 positions, a positive pressure unit intended for use with 96-well filter-/SPE-plates, a centrifuge, an evaporator, a 96-well plate shaker and a hotel for 96-well plates. The system can, in addition to liquid handling and extraction, also perform liquid-liquid extraction, SPE clean-up/filtration, centrifugation and evaporation in 96-well format.
The methods are fully automated and the extracts, ready for instrumental analysis, are obtained in a 96-well plate format. Sample preparation of 96 samples, from weighed analytical sample to extracts ready for instrumental analysis takes 2-3 hours, depending on analytical method. The sample throughput for all the methods has increased, from 50-60 samples/day to 288 samples/day. The methods have been validated for snus, moist snuff, tobacco flour and nicotine pouches.
Altogether, the Tecan Fluent 1080 automation workstation system provides sample preparation with great accuracy and precision and high sample throughput while labour-intensive manual sample preparation steps are eliminated. Moreover, introduction of such a system also improves the physical working environment in the laboratory.