Who is Metrohm Nordic Denmark?
There are only six people in the Danish team of Metrohm Nordic. Five of them are based in the Copenhagen area, and the sixth is located in Jutland, the Danish mainland (whereas Copenhagen is located on an island). The team of five meet at the Copenhagen office daily. Being so few, most responsibilities are shared, from sales to service to washing dishes in the office kitchen—this includes managing director Michael Høy.
Michael founded the Danish branch of Metrohm Nordic in 2001. He had been working with the former Metrohm distributor and, when he left the company over a disagreement, decided to join Metrohm Nordic to start a Danish branch. He chose the location close to his home just outside Copenhagen, where he currently still lives with his wife and his dog.
The majority of his team have been with Metrohm for more than 10 years, which has created a strong personal bond between them. At lunchtime, they all sit together and eat the Danish national dish smørrebrød, an open sandwich consisting of a slice of dark rye bread with butter and various fish, meat, and cheese toppings, in the office kitchen, which is decorated with paintings done by Michael’s mother, who was a painter.
Denmark has strong pharmaceutical and food industries but the Metrohm clientele is far more diverse than that. I’d like to introduce you to two very different customers I visited in Denmark: the Danish Defence Acquisition and Logistics Organization (DALO) in Værløse and the Centre for Ice and Climate at the University of Copenhagen.
Danish Defence Acquisition and Logistics Organization (DALO) in Værløse
The DALO Laboratory receives a wide spectrum of samples from the Danish military. For example, they analyze jet fuels and other propellants in the scope of incoming goods control. Airplane paints are analyzed with respect to certain quality parameters when they approach their expiration date. If they still fulfill the necessary quality standards, the expiration date can be extended. This way, a lot of money can be saved.
Similarly, samples of electroplating solutions used for surface finishing of airplane parts, cooling waters, and motor oils that are already in use are tested regularly to find out whether one can continue to use them. «You have to imagine that motors of big ships may contain 1000 liters of motor oil», says Morten W. Bach Poulsen, who works in the surveillance of energetic materials. «Exchanging all of this is very expensive, so it shouldn’t be done more often than necessary.»
In addition to chemical testing, the DALO Laboratory in Værløse does mechanical testing of metal parts. This includes tensile strength testing by applying force to the parts in question and analyzing how and why they break, but also the investigation of accidents.
The atmosphere in the laboratory is much more relaxed than you might expect. «We’re all civilians here», explains Morten, and he adds: «We don’t have to wear uniforms and we don’t have to salute.»
Polar Research at the University of Copenhagen
At the Centre for Ice and Climate at the University of Copenhagen, the group of Associate Professor Paul Vallelonga analyzes ice cores from the polar regions, which they’ve previously drilled in Greenland and in Antarctica. We visited during a melting campaign of an ice core taken in Antarctica.
Before the melting is started, samples of half a meter to a meter length are prepared in the freezer at -15 °C. Then, they’re placed in a freezer and slowly melted from the bottom up. Paul and his coworkers analyze various parameters in real time during the melting process, including the particle count, gases such as methane trapped as air bubbles in the ice, and cerain ions. The real-time analysis allows the scientists to obtain results for very thin layers of ice. The high temporal resolution of the analyses makes it possible to attribute the layers of ice to years and seasons and reconstruct information concerning the climate of those years. Some samples are analyzed for anions by ion chromatography in addition, which can’t be done in real time.
Paul’s team uses the ice cores to look at climatic conditions that prevailed on Earth between now and hundreds of thousands of years ago. It’s fascinating to see how a piece of ice that looks like nothing but clean, frozen water can take you on a journey to the distant past.