Oilseed Analysis Using NMR – Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy

Oilseed Analysis

Rapid, and in some cases, non-destructive measurement of oil or oil and moisture in oilseeds and oilseed residues is important for breeding, trading and processing purposes.

NMR is well suited for routine analysis of oilseeds with measurements completed in just seconds. The method is so simple that a new user can be trained up to use the instrument in just a couple of hours and a benchtop NMR unit like the Oxford Instruments MQCC+ is compact enough that it can be easily integrated into the smallest of labs, requiring only a standard power point to run it.

The Oxford Instruments MQC+ benchtop NMR
The Oxford Instruments MQC+ benchtop NMR.

0.1% improvement in oil yield on 100,000 t/yr pays for the instrument in 1 year.

Oilseed Analysis Technology Comparison

Traditionally NIR and soxhlet have been the techniques used to analyse oilseeds. More recently NMR has been found to be a superior technique with key advantages being, faster analysis leading to higher throughput, more accurate, no sample preparation, no hazardous waste products to deal with and very low running costs. Furthermore, it is easier to use, has less steps in taking a measurement and is less prone to errors.

Soxhlet vs Benchtop NMR

The soxhlet technique can be traced back to 1879 and is a labour intensive, solvent extraction, wet chemical analysis technique. The table below compares soxhlet to benchtop NMR.

Soxhlet apparatus. Credit Аимаина хикари, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons.
SoxhletBenchtop NMR
Uses solvents -> hazardous and costlyNo solvents or other chemicals
Labour intensive -> ~20 samples/dayRapid measurement -> >250 samples/day
Subject to operator variationSimple procedure with little scope for error


NIR is another technique used by some for oilseed analysis. In comparison, NMR is simpler and more robust. The following table provides a comparison between the two techniques.

NIRBenchtop NMR
Many standards required to build a calibrationSimple linear calibrations
Calibrations irrelevant if matrix changesRobust calibration unaffected by changes in size, colour or origin
Measure other parameters e.g. protein & ashOnly measure oil and water but with higher precision.

Cost Benefit Analysis – NMR in Oilseed Analysis

OPilseed analysis by NMR - cost benefit analsysis

This application note compares and contrasts NMR with the soxhlet extraction technique.

Key Takeaway

If a canola crushing plant producing 100,000 metric tonnes of oil per year were able to increase their yield by 0.1% by process optimisation based on the oil content measurement, then the NMR instrument would more than pay for itself within a year of operation (assuming a market price of $800 dollars per metric tonne).

Learn More About Oilseed Analysis by NMR

This webinar was originally run in conjunction with the Australian Oilseed Federation.

On-Demand Webinar – Optimising Oilseed Yield Using NMR

Optimising oilseed yield can bring commercial advantages and operational efficiencies. To ensure the highest yield, the amount of oil and water in seeds must be accurately measured at all stages of the production cycle, from plant breeding through commercial agriculture to milling and processing. Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) provides a reliable, precise and affordable platform for such measurements.

Application Notes

Oil and water content of oilseeds by NMR according to ISO 10565
oil and water content of oilseed residue by NMR
Rapid oil and moisture in oilseeds analysis is important for breeding, trading and processing purposes. NMR is the ideal solution.