High-Speed Formaldehyde Analysis for the Process-Line and Laboratory: SIFT-MS

Martin Perkins

4th January 2019

Reliable, sensitive, and selective analysis of chemically diverse volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and inorganic gases cannot be achieved using traditional chromatographic techniques unless multiple analyses are invoked. A more recent analytical technique – Selected Ion Flow Tube Mass Spectrometry (SIFT-MS) – overcomes this limitation by eliminating chromatography and using highly controlled chemical ionization to achieve broad-spectrum, direct analysis of air and headspace. In this paper, the SIFT-MS technique will be introduced. Selectivity in SIFT-MS is achieved by coupling mass spectrometry with ultrasoft chemical ionization: eight reagent ions are available and automatically switched by software control of a quadrupole mass spectrometer. The very diverse reaction mechanisms provided by the reagent ions provides detection of a very wide range of compounds, including chromatographically challenging ones such as ammonia, formaldehyde, and hydrogen sulfide. Rapid, direct analysis naturally lends itself to applications both on the process-line and in the laboratory. The paper will illustrate the unique capabilities of SIFT-MS analysis by focusing on formaldehyde – a chromatographically challenging compound. Various analysis scenarios will be illustrated, including analysis of formaldehyde emissions in candle flames, polymer headspace, and direct air analysis from sample bags.


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