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Issue 3, 2015
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Characterization of ion processes in a GC/DMS air quality monitor by integration of the instrument to a mass spectrometer

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Abstract

The air quality monitor (AQM), which included a portable gas chromatograph (GC) and a detector was interfaced to a mass spectrometer (MS) by introducing flow from the GC detector to the atmospheric pressure ion source of the MS. This small GC system, with a gas recirculation loop for carrier and detector make-up gases, comprised an inlet to preconcentrate volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in air, a thermal desorber before the GC column, a differential mobility spectrometer (DMS), and another DMS as an atmospheric pressure ionization source for the MS. Return flow to the internally recirculated air system of the AQM's DMS was replenished using purified air. Although ions and unreacted neutral vapors flowed from the detector through VitonĀ® tubing into the source of the MS, ions were not detected in the MS without the auxillary ion source, 63Ni as in the mobility detector. The GC-DMS-MS instrument provided a 3-D measurement platform (GC, DMS, and MS analysis) to explore the gas composition inside the GC-DMS recirculation loop and provide DMS-MS measurement of the components of a complex VOC mixture with performance significantly enhanced by mass-analysis, either with mass spectral scans or with an extracted ion chromatogram. This combination of a mobility spectrometer and a mass spectrometer was possible as vapors and ions are carried together through the DMS analyzer, thereby preserving the chromatographic separation efficiency. The critical benefit of this instrument concept is that all flows in and through the thoroughly integrated GC-DMS analyzer are kept intact allowing a full measure of the ion and vapor composition in the complete system. Performance has been evaluated using a synthetic air sample and a sample of airborne vapors in a laboratory. Capabilities and performance values are described using results from AQM-MS analysis of purified air, ambient air from a research laboratory in a chemistry building, and a sample of synthetic air of known composition. Quantitative measures of a stand-alone AQM are disclosed for VOCs in the ppb to ppm levels with an average precision of 5.8% RSD and accuracy from 4% to 28% error against a standard method.

Graphical abstract: Characterization of ion processes in a GC/DMS air quality monitor by integration of the instrument to a mass spectrometer

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Publication details

The article was received on 11 Oct 2014, accepted on 26 Nov 2014 and first published on 15 Dec 2014


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C4AN01800A
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Citation: Analyst, 2015,140, 922-930
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    Characterization of ion processes in a GC/DMS air quality monitor by integration of the instrument to a mass spectrometer

    T. F. Limero, E. G. Nazarov, M. Menlyadiev and G. A. Eiceman, Analyst, 2015, 140, 922
    DOI: 10.1039/C4AN01800A

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