Handheld Methanol Detector for Beverage Analysis: Interlaboratory Validation

03 June 2024, Version 2


Methanol is a toxic alcohol contained in alcoholic beverages as a natural byproduct of fermentation or added intentionally to counterfeits to increase profit. To ensure consumer safety, many countries and the EU have established strict legislation limits for methanol content. Methanol concentration is mostly detected by laboratory instrumentation since mobile devices for routine on-site testing of beverages in distilleries, at border stations or even at home are not available. Here, we validated a handheld methanol detector for beverage analysis in an ISO 5725 interlaboratory trial: A total of 119 measurements were performed by 17 independent participants (distilleries, universities, authorities, and competence centers) from six countries on samples with relevant methanol (0.1, 1.5 vol%). The detector was based on a microporous separation filter and a nanostructured gas sensor allowing on-site measurement of methanol down to 0.01 vol% (in the liquid) within only 2 min by laymen. The detector showed excellent repeatability (<5.4%), reproducibility (<9.5%) and small bias (<0.012 vol%). Additional measurements on various methanol-spiked alcoholic beverages (whisky, rum, gin, vodka, tequila, port, sherry, liqueur) indicated that the detector is not interfered by environmental temperature and spirit composition, featuring excellent linearity (Pearson’s R²>0.99) down to methanol concentrations of 0.01 vol%. This device has been recently commercialized (Alivion Spark M-20) with comparable accuracy to the gold-standard gas chromatography and can be readily applied for final product inspection, intake control of raw materials or to identify toxic counterfeit products.


chemical sensor
miniaturized gas chromatography
food safety
alcoholic beverages
methanol intoxication
ISO 5725

Supplementary materials

Supporting Information
Characterization of measurement error, List of all participants in the interlaboratory trial, Results of individual repeat measurement, Standard measurement method «Methanol measurement in liquids by use of the Alivion Spark M-20».


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