Making use of a small direct methanol fuel cell device (DMFC), used as an analytical sensor, chemometric methods, organic compounds very different from one another, can be determined qualitatively and quantitatively. In this research, the following seven different organic compounds of pharmaceutical and biomedical interest, having in common only one –OH group, were considered: chloramphenicol, imipenem, methanol, ethanol, propanol, atropine and cortisone. From a quantitative point of view, the traditional approach, involving the building of individual calibration curves, which allow the quantitative determination of the corresponding organic compounds, even if with different sensitivities, was followed. For the qualitative analysis of each compound, this approach has been much more innovative. In fact, by processing the data from each of the individual response curves, obtained through the fuel cell, using chemometric methods, it is possible to directly identify and recognize each of the seven organic compounds. Since the study is a proof of concept to show the potential of this innovative methodological approach, based on the combination of direct methanol fuel cell with advanced chemometric tools, at this stage, concentration ranges that may not be the ones found in some real situations were investigated. The three methods adopted are all explorative methods with very limited computation costs, which have different characteristics and, therefore, may provide complementary information on the analyzed data. Indeed, while PCA (principal components analysis) provides the most parsimonious summary of the variability observed in the current response matrix, the analysis of the current response behavior was performed by the “slicing” method, in order to transform the current response profiles into numerical matrices, while PARAFAC (Parallel Factor Analysis) allows to obtain a finer deconvolution of the exponential curves. On the other hand, the multiblock nature of “ComDim” (Common Components and Specific Weight Analysis) has been the basis to relate the variability observed in the current response behavior with the parameters of the linear calibrations.
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