A quick inquiry from an online search engine about “Used Mass Spectrometers” brings a staggering list of results. The Mass Spectrometers (Mass Spec) market is valued at almost five billion dollars and experts believe that number is set to go up by fifty percent in the next ten years. This explosive growth is coming from new and increased applications stemming from tightening standards in the Food and Beverage industry. Improvements, especially in Tandem Mass Spec technology, are pushing scientist to acquire new instruments and creating an opportunity for the older equipment to be used for other applications. The market is being bolstered by institutions, schools, and foundations who are looking for replacement technology for their even older mass specs and more dated equipment. These conditions lead to a booming used mass spec market, where one can find spectrometers in varying sizes and conditions. Devices are listed as low as a few hundred to over one-hundred thousand dollars for more sensitive and flexible models.
There are nearly a dozen or more types of instruments that function as Mass Spectrometers and their practical applications are widening every day. The process that creates the results varies widely from type to type but models are more or less distinguished based on versatility, sensitivity, speed, resolution, and throughput. Essentially they all end with the same result, the detection of various proteins and compounds. How they do that and how long it takes can be drastically different from system to system. The newer mass specs are easier to use and get fast results but, depending on the need of the project, more affordable equipment can satisfy the need. The machines themselves are the physical metaphor for the expansion of the field. Food safety concerns and the pressing questions around environmental science is pushing this state of the art equipment into the spot light. The instruments that once worked on theories inside classrooms are now applying the same techniques to solve some of the world’s most challenging problems.
The United States has led the world in Mass Spec purchasing for years, but Canada, Mexico, and Europe are buying more of these instruments than ever. There are several firms based in North America and Europe that specialize in the purchasing and refurbishment of these sensitive instruments. A wide array can be found on several websites.
This is a very exciting time for institutions looking to expand their scientific impact. The increase in the availability of used mass specs will have lasting positive consequences. What was once cutting edge technology used to push the boundaries of scientific research is finding itself used in a variety of commercial and public service projects. These systems get to the bottom of what things are. What is inside our food and our atmosphere? It seems as though the more we all know about what we eat and breath and what composes the world around us the better suited we are to handle the challenges waiting for us there.