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Capturing aromas

Veronica Freire Embrapa-designed handheld device captures plant volatilesVeronica Freire

Researchers from the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation, Tropical Agroindustry Division, in Fortaleza, have designed a handheld, user-friendly device to collect volatile emissions from plants. Developed by chemist Guilherme Zocolo, the apparatus consists of a vacuum pump attached to a chamber; molecules cling to the surface of a material inside. According to the researchers, the aroma collector enables sampling of chemical compounds without having to pick flower heads and preserve them at a low temperature; furthermore, samples obtained with the device can be kept for up to a week. While volatiles can be collected with other types of equipment, these alternatives are so expensive and sophisticated that their use is not feasible in the field. Researchers tested the new device by collecting the compounds released by flowers of the African oil palm in Rio Preto da Eva, a municipality in Amazonas State, and transporting them to a laboratory 2,400 kilometers away, in Fortaleza.