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									                                                               SANDA CORPORTION
                                                  APPLICATION NOTES FACTSTM
                                                                                                        6 Am
     The Thermotitrimetric Determination of Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
                          Using Sorensen's Titration
                                           Thomas K. Smith, MPhil
                                          Antom Technologes Pty Ltd


Monosodium glutamate (MSG) may be simply and rapidly analyzed for purity using a thermometric acid-
base titration. The sample is initially reacted with formaldehyde to form the methylol derivative, thus
destroying the amphoteric character of the amino acid and permitting it to be titrated with standard base to a
thermometrically determined endpoint. The method is accurate and precise (~0.3% rsd). The titration takes
approximately two minutes. The method is suitable for fully automated operation.


A standard method that is employed for quality control of MSG involves a non-aqueous potentiometric
titration with perchloric acid dissolved in essentially anhydrous acetic acid. The titrant is an unpleasant and
corrosive liquid. Perchloric acid is a powerful and sometimes unpredictable oxidizing agent, particularly in
the presence of organic compounds. Fires and explosions are attendant hazards of working with perchloric
acid. The determination must also be accompanied by sample blank and titrant blank titrations. A titration in
aqueous solution is a preferable alternative.

Amino acids are not directly titratable with base due to their zwitterionic, inner salt character. "Sørensen's
Titration" is well documented in organic chemistry texts as a convenient method for the determination of
amino acids (1). When for instance formaldehyde solution is added to a solution of glycine, the methylol
derivative of glycine is formed:


The resultant acid may be titrated with a base such as NaOH. It is likely that monosodium glutamate reacts
with formaldehyde in a similar manner:


Endpoints in thermometric titrations are revealed by rapid reaction enthalpy rate changes when the reaction
of analyte with titrant is complete. This is in contrast to potentiometric titrations of organic acids with bases,
which may be problematic. The attenuation of titration curves around the endpoint can make precise location

A thermometric version of "Sørensen's Titration" offered the promise of being simple and easily carried out.
The following procedure was developed in response to a client inquiry.


2-1.    Equipment. SANDA FACTSTM (Fully Automated, Computerized Titration System), SANDA
Corporation, Philadelphia, USA.

2-2.     Reagents.
2-2.1.       2M NaOH titrant. Dissolve 80g NaOH pellets in water, and make up to 1L in a volumetric flask.

2-2.2.       Standard 1M HCl solution (Ajax Chemicals "Univol", Australia).

2-2.3.       Concentrated formaldehyde solution, nominally 34 - 38% w/v (Sigma, Australia).

2-3.      Sample of MSG. A sample of domestic food grade monosodium glutamate monohydrate,
NaO2CCH2CH2CH(NH2)CO2H.H2O, M.W. 187.13, was purchased ("Mong Lee Shang" brand, De Sun
Industrial Corporation, Taiwan).

2-4.    Conduct of          the Determination. (The       following is the preferred method,        based on

2-4.1. Standardization of NaOH Titrant. Provide 200 ml styrofoam beakers with a 40 mm long magnetic
spin bar, and prepare aliquots of HCl as indicated in the table. Perform titration of each aliquot size in

Aliquot of 1M HCl, ml         34 - 38% w/v HCHO solution, ml Added water, ml Total volume, ml
10      10      -             20
5       10      5             20
4       10      6             20
2       10      8             20

A starting volume of approximately 20 ml is preferred for the titrations. Formaldehyde is added in the same
quantity as is used in titration of the MSG, to compensate for any residual acidity, and impose the same
experimental conditions ("matrix matching").

A linear regression is calculated from the aliquot volumes of HCl and the respective volumes of NaOH
titrant. The molarity of the NaOH is calculated from the molarity of the HCl divided by the gradient of the
curve. The y-intercept of the linear relationship is a constant required in the FACTSTM calculation.

The standardization is only required on make-up of a new batch of NaOH titrant, or opening of a new
container of concentrated formaldehyde solution.

2-4.2.       SANDA FACTSTM Instrument Parameters.
         •     Titrant delivery rate: 12 µl/sec
         •     Data collection interval: 0.3 sec
         •     Gain: 5
         •     Fast Fourier Transform smoothing factor: 60

2-4.3. Sample Preparation and Titration. Approximately 0.75 - 0.8 g of MSG is accurately weighed into
a 200 ml styrofoam cup. A magnetic spin bar is provided, and 10 ml water added. The MSG is dissolved by
gentle stirring on a magnetic stirrer, and 10 ml concentrated formaldehyde solution added. The solution is
titrated thermometrically in an identical manner to the standards.


3-1.      Standardization of NaOH. The molarity of the NaOH was determined to be 2.0276M. The y-
intercept was 0.096. Coefficient of correlation (R2) was 0.99999.

3-2.     Purity of MSG. The purity of the MSG was determined by replicate titrations to be 98.0 ± 0.3%
(1σ). A valency of 1 was assumed for the calculations.

3-3.       Titration thermogram. Figure 1 illustrates a typical titration thermogram for the determination of
MSG by Sörensen's Titration. The instrument records the temperature change of the solution during the
titration. The FACTSTM software calculates the first and second derivatives of this temperature curve. The
first derivative shows the rate of enthalpy change, and the second derivative is used to located the endpoint.

                            27.5       First                                       Direct
          Degrees Celsius            Derivative                                 Temperature
                              27      Curve                                        Curve


                              26                 Second
                            25.5                  Curve

                                         0.5            1       1.5                    2
                                                       ml NaOH Titrant

                            Figure 1. Titration Thermogram of Monosodium Glutamate with 2M NaOH

3-4.       Ratio of Sample Mass to Formaldehyde Addition. During the method development, a number of
titrations were performed with sample masses around 1.5 g, but using the same volume (10 ml) of
formaldehyde solution. Within statistical error, the same result was obtained for titrations with a lower
sample mass of approximately 0.75g, but the precision was slightly less. There was no evidence that the
kinetics of the reaction of the formaldehyde with the MSG were at all significant.


The thermometric adaptation of Sørensen's Titration is a quick, easy, accurate and precise method for the
determination of the purity of amino acids such as monosodium glutamate.

5.      REFERENCE.

Finar, I. L. (1959) Organic Chemistry - Volume One - The Fundamental Principles (Third Edition).
Longmans, Green and Co. Ltd, London.

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