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Which Discrete Analyzer Is Most Suitable for My Lab? A Discrete Analyzer Selection Guide

Team TFS
Team TFS

Discrete analyzers offer flexibility and ease of use, as well as a unique opportunity to automate time-consuming and labor-intensive wet chemical analysis. When conducting multiparameter analysis for wine, malt, beer, food and beverage, environmental water, industrial water, and water utilities, discrete analyzer technology ensures high product quality and throughput while reducing cost, waste and hands-on sample time.

To learn what a discreet analyzer is and how it works, read my previous blog post.

The development of discrete analyzer technology is driven by high demand in the clinical markets. Development in terms of hardware, user interface, ready-to-use reagent kits, workflow, and built-in intelligence, such as auto dilution and auto calibration are taking discrete analyzers to the next level. The new generation of discrete analyzers are widely accepted by regulatory methods such as US EPA and AOAC, and are perceived as a faster and more economical alternative to other wet chemical methods, such as flow analyzers, titration, spectrophotometric and other manual wet chemical methods. As you consider upgrading your lab with a modern technique, or replacing an old discrete analyzer or flow analyzer,  it is important to take a closer look at the benefits the different discrete analyzers offer for automating wet chemistry methods.

In upcoming blog posts, I will discuss key modern discrete analyzer features, covering hardware, software, workflow, throughput, application expandability and cost per analysis.

Discrete analyzers help laboratories reach the high throughputs demanded by a fast-paced manufacturing environment at a fraction of the cost of traditional methods. Increasing the spectrum, frequency, and rate of parameter testing starts the shift toward a continuous monitoring model, which means that manufacturing teams can make more accurate decisions.

Benefits of the discrete analyzer are nicely summarized in this whiteboard video.

What are the different types of discrete analyzers? What are the advantages and limitations?

Depending on how the final photometric measurement is done, discrete analyzers can be classified into two types: true/direct read systems and fusion/hybrid systems.


In true/direct read discrete analyzers the sample addition, reagent addition and the final measurement are made in the same cuvette, providing important information about the measurement and making the overall method development or optimization easier. True discrete/direct read discrete analyzers also allow the easy blank, spiking and sample dilution with realtime kinetic or activity measurements. All measurements are performed in a single cuvette, eliminating the rinsing step and carry-over effect and improving throughput considerably.

In fusion/hybrid discrete analyzers (figure below), the sample, reagent addition, and color development are done in the disposable reaction wells and final photometric measurement is done in the static flow-through cell. Sample solutions after color formation from disposable reaction wells are subsequently transferred to a static flow-through cell using a peristaltic pump or a dispenser. The function is somewhat similar to the flow injection analyzer or segmented flow analyzer, except the color development is done in a disposable reaction well. Because the final photometric measurements are done using the same flow-through cell, it must be rinsed thoroughly between the samples with deionized water or buffers before the next measurement. This substantially reduces throughput. The fusion discrete analyzer system compromises on throughput and adds the cost of disposable reaction wells and cuvettes. One of the biggest advantages of the fusion system is the ability to change the pathlength of the static measuring cell, depending on the application need. Longer path-length cells are used for trace level analysis in sea water matrix.

The table below summarizes the advantages and limitations of direct read and fusion/hybrid discrete analyzers.


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