A novel infrared (IR) sample handling accessory has been developed to monitor and study oxidation processes of edible oils under moderate temperature conditions by Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopy. A reusable stainless steel mesh IR "cell" was designed and evaluated from the standpoint of mesh size, transmission characteristics, its ability to entrap oil, and techniques to apply sample and normalize path length so as to obtain good quality, reproducible spectra. The concept is to entrap oil within the mesh by means of its inherent surface tension and to take advantage of the high surface area provided by the mesh to facilitate rapid oxidation of the oil by air at ambient or slightly elevated temperatures without having to resort to more extreme temperature conditions to track oxidative changes in real time. Changes taking place in canola oil at room temperature, in the dark and exposed to light, as well as at 50 °C are presented to illustrate the performance of the cell in monitoring oxidative changes in real time (e.g., formation of hydroperoxides, loss of <i>cis</i> and formation of <i>trans</i> double bonds). The mesh cell should be useful for comparing the relative performance of antioxidants as well as evaluating the oxidative stability of oils, among other applications.
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