Adsorption of water vapour in the solid sorbents used for the sampling of volatile organic compounds
The adsorption of water vapour in the sorbents used to sample volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the atmosphere was investigated by frontal gas chromatography. Air of 95% relative humidity (RH) was passed through the sorbent bed and the uptake of water was monitored at the outlet of the trap. Graphitized carbons and non-polar polymeric sorbents, such as Tenax and Chromosorb 106, show poor water trapping of generally less than 5 mg of water per gram of sorbent. Polar polymeric sorbents, e.g. Chromosorb 108, Porapak T and Porapak N, sorb more water which is, however, weakly bound and easily removed by purging the sorbent bed with a dry gas. Carbon molecular sieves, e.g. Carbosieve S-III, Carboxen 569, Carboxen 1000 and Carboxen 1001, adsorb substantial amounts of water, corresponding to the volume of micropores. An important feature is a lack of adsorption at low RHs. Measures to prevent water adsorption in sampling even very humid gases are advanced. The RH of sampled gas should be decreased below a threshold value (RHthr). The RHthr is 50% for Carboxen 1000 and less than that for the other sorbents studied. Practical implementation of the suggested method is discussed.