Rapid Screening of Volatile Compounds in Paperboard Using Static Headspace-SIFT-MS

Martin Perkins

13th February 2019

Screening of volatile compounds has historically been performed using Gas Chromatography, most commonly using headspace analysis. However, a single method may not be suitable for all compound types at a range of concentrations and even a fast GC analysis typically takes around 10 minutes – longer if chromatographic separation of a number of components is required. Combining the power of direct analysis using selected ion flow tube mass spectrometry (SIFT-MS) with static headspace (SH) analysis, diverse volatile compounds – such as organic acids, aldehydes and reduced sulphur compounds – are detected and quantified rapidly and economically. This application note describes the application of SH-SIFT-MS to the detection of very diverse volatiles in eleven paperboard samples with analysis times of less than one minute per sample, and demonstrates the speed of analysis and range of polar species the instrument can measure. The ability to perform analysis so quickly not only saves time for routine screening methods, but also potentially enables more sampling points to be taken, increasing the data density and information obtained. As well as providing a 10-fold increase in sample throughput, SIFT-MS also broadens the range of compounds detectable in a single analysis. SIFT-MS easily detects and quantifies polar species (such as the short-chain aldehydes and organic acids) and thermally labile species (e.g. the reduced sulphur compounds) without any need for derivatisation or pre-concentration.


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