Determination of metals in lubricating oils by flame atomic absorption spectrometry using a single-bore high-pressure pneumatic nebulizer
The behaviour of a single-bore high-pressure pneumatic nebulizer (SBHPPN) as a tool for the analysis of lubricating oils by flame atomic absorption spectrometry (FAAS) was investigated. The effects of the sample oil content [from 10% to 100% (w/w) oil in 4-methylpentan-2-one, IBMK] and the carrier nature (IBMK and methanol) on the characteristics of the aerosols generated, on the analyte transport efficiency and on the analytical figures of merit in FAAS were studied. A pneumatic concentric nebulizer (PCN) was used for comparison. Increasing the oil content increases the viscosity of the sample. With the PCN this gives rise to coarser aerosols, making it impossible to nebulize samples with an oil content higher than 70% (w/w). Using the SBHPPN, the viscosity of the sample scarcely affects the characteristics of the primary aerosols. Hence, the SBHPPN is able, by using the appropriate carrier, to nebulize pure lubricating oils. Among the carriers tested, IBMK is the most advisable because it is fully miscible with all the oil samples. The SBHPPN provides higher sensitivities and lower limits of detection than the PCN. Compared with a method based on organic dilution, the use of the SBHPPN for the direct analysis of lubricating oils by FAAS makes it possible, in addition to increasing the analysis throughput, to detect elements at lower concentrations. Moreover, the SBHPPN provides similar results to those obtained using a previous acid digestion step.