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Performance and optimization of a combustion interface for isotope ratio monitoring gas chromatography/mass spectrometryConditions and systems for on-line combustion of effluents from capillary gas chromatographic columns and for removal of water vapor from product streams were tested. Organic carbon in gas chromatographic peaks 15 s wide and containing up to 30 nanomoles of carbon was quantitatively converted to CO2 by tubular combustion reactors, 200 x 0.5 mm, packed with CuO or NiO. No auxiliary source of O2 was required because oxygen was supplied by metal oxides. Spontaneous degradation of CuO limited the life of CuO reactors at T > 850 degrees C. Since NiO does not spontaneously degrade, its use might be favored, but Ni-bound carbon phases form and lead to inaccurate isotopic results at T < 1050 degrees C if gas-phase O2 is not added. For all compounds tested except CH4, equivalent isotopic results are provided by CuO at 850 degrees C, NiO + O2 (gas-phase mole fraction, 10(-3)) at 1050 degrees C and NiO at 1150 degrees C. The combustion interface did not contribute additional analytical uncertainty, thus observed standard deviations of 13C/12C ratios were within a factor of 2 of shot-noise limits. For combustion and isotopic analyses of CH4, in which quantitative combustion required T approximately 950 degrees C, NiO-based systems are preferred, and precision is approximately 2 times lower than that observed for other analytes. Water must be removed from the gas stream transmitted to the mass spectrometer or else protonation of CO2 will lead to inaccuracy in isotopic analyses. Although thresholds for this effect vary between mass spectrometers, differential permeation of H2O through Nafion tubing was effective in both cases tested, but the required length of the Nafion membrane was 4 times greater for the more sensitive mass spectrometer.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
External Source(s)
Merritt, D. A. (Indiana University Bloomington 47405, United States)
Freeman, K. H.
Ricci, M. P.
Studley, S. A.
Hayes, J. M.
Date Acquired
August 21, 2013
Publication Date
July 15, 1995
Publication Information
Publication: Analytical chemistry
Volume: 67
Issue: 14
ISSN: 0003-2700
Subject Category
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits
NASA Discipline Exobiology
Non-NASA Center