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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

Table of Contents

Abstract Volume 22 (2017) pp 142-145

Gas Chromatographic Analysis of Methyl Ethyl Ketone (MEK) in Nail Polish Remover Using an Open Platform Microcontrolled-Data Logger

Prince Ahmed and Eugene T. Smith*

Department of Chemistry, Honors College, Florida Atlantic University, Jupiter, FL 33458,
Received May 4, 2017. Accepted August 7, 2017.

Published: 25 September 2017

Abstract. This two-part exercise encompasses the construction of a microcontrolled data logger and a laboratory experiment utilizing the data logger to collect chromatographic data. The first exercise describes the assembly and testing of a data logger, which consists of a printed circuit board (PCB) and an mbed microcontrolled. After assembly, students use the data logger connected to a laptop computer to record chromatograms directly into a spreadsheet. The microcontrolled runs a simple C++ program that is loaded directly into flash memory, and the spreadsheet utilizes a simple program written in Excel’s built-in programming language (VBA). Supporting material, including instructional videos, should allow instructors with little experience in this technology to produce working data loggers without investing significant time or money. A laboratory exercise is also described for the analysis of methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) in nail polish remover using a Gow-Mac gas chromatograph fitted with a thermal conductivity detector. The concentration of MEK in nail polish remover was determined to be 35% ± 2%. The lab is appropriate for quantitative analysis, instrumental methods or possibly a general chemistry course.

Key Words: Laboratories and Demonstrations; analytic chemistry

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail:

Article in PDF format (231 KB) HTML format

Supporting Materials:

The following files are available as Supporting Material: Instructor notes/Student handout; Excel template (DLv100.xls); mbed program text (DL-mbedcode.txt) and compiled (DL-v100_LPC1768.bin); PCB Eagle files (DL-v100.brd and DL-v100.sch). (1420 KB)

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