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A New Twist on Landfill Gas Analysis

Martin Perkins

4th May 2017

Analysis, Biogas, Chlorinated Hydrocarbons, Formaldehyde, Gas, Hydrocarbons, Impurities, Landfill, Organosilicon, Oxygenated Hydrocarbons, Selected Ion Flow Tube Mass Spectrometry, SIFT-MS, Silica, Styrene, Sulphur, Tedlar Bag, Tetrachloroethylene, Toluene, Trace,


Landfill sites and other sources of biogas benefit from trace gas analysis.

Selected Ion Flow Tube Mass Spectrometry (SIFT-MS) has the potential to have a dramatic impact upon the economics of the analysis of volatile compounds in the environment.

The first laboratory to adopt it will undoubtedly gain a significant commercial advantage by becoming the ‘first mover’.

I have just come across an application note by Syft Technologies that highlights the benefits that SIFT-MS can bring to the analysis of trace impurities in landfill gas.

The analysis of the bulk constituents of landfill gas is a pretty straightforward GC application, however the analysis of trace components is more challenging.  These trace compounds include:

  • Sulphur compounds – important sources of odour complaints, sulphur compounds are intrinsically tricky to analyse for and standards are expensive and unreliable.
  • Oxygenated hydrocarbons, such as formaldehyde are very tough to do by GC-MS.
  • Organosilicon compounds – where landfill gas is used as fuel, they are combusted and deliver abrasive silica into the engine’s moving parts.
  • Hydrocarbons – like styrene, toluene.
  • Chlorinated hydrocarbons – like tetrachloroethylene.

To do this by GC-MS will, in all likelihood, need several runs on different instruments.  The analysis will be slow and sample turnaround times will be long – a real problem if you are receiving samples in Tedlar bags.

SIFT-MS can analyse lots of samples quickly for all of these trace impurities and do so without the need for standards.

By lots of samples, we mean hundreds of samples per day, so samples can be analysed as soon as they are received.

You can find a copy of the application note here and a video showing how quickly SIFT-MS can analyse bag samples here.

If you would like to see how well SIFT-MS works on your samples (and how quick and easy method development can be), please contact us and we will arrange a demonstration for you.

Call us on +44 (0)1223 279210 or email: enquiries@anatune.co.uk.