Residual Solvents in Polymers using MPS-GC/Q-TOF

Martin Perkins

7th July 2017

Agilent 7200 GC/Q-TOF, Case Study, GC/Q-TOF, Intertek, Joe Perkins, MPS, MultiPurpose Sampler, Polymers,

A Guest Blog Post

Polymers are some of the most versatile materials in existence and are used in all aspects of our daily lives.  They have revolutionized the manufacture of consumer products and industrial applications such as aerospace, automotive, electronics and packaging.

Determination of residual solvents in polymers is necessary across a range of applications, for example, the identification and quantification of residual solvents and volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) in polymers used in medical devices or food packaging materials.

In certain industries, a manufacturer may specify their own standards, however there may also be industry or regulatory standards that demand that residual solvents should be identified and quantified – sometimes to extremely low levels.

Selecting the Right Technology to Solve the Problem

The application of the right technology is key to a successful investigative or quantitative study for polymer analysis in general.  Several Gas Chromatography (GC) technologies may be relevant including GC with flame ionization detection (GC-FID), GC with Mass Spectrometry detection, Pyrolysis instrumentation, and Quadrupole Time-of-Flight GC (GC/Q-TOF).

At Intertek we utilise GC/Q-TOF (Agilent 7200 GC/Q-TOF, supplied and supported by Anatune) for residual solvent analysis and, when used in conjunction with a MultiPurpose Sampler (MPS), we can automate our sample preparation using both Static Headspace and Thermal Desorption facilitating a highly efficient analysis throughput.

For a long time we had observed that high resolution accurate mass GC-MS has an important part to play in polymer applications and with the rapid evolution of analytical technologies, today’s GC/Q-TOF instruments are dependable, robust and allows flexibility in method design and application.

Increasing Efficiency – A GC/Q-TOF Case Study

A client required testing for residual dichloromethane on samples of a polymer film. On the face of it, this looks a simple task, but the specified detection limits were very low (1ppb) and so we selected the accurate mass capability of the GC/Q-TOF instrument to enable us to reach these limits.  The client’s test protocol calls for each sample to be incubated for over 10 hours at 50oC and this did impact analysis throughput.

Other challenges from interferences caused by other low-level components in the sample also added complexity to the problem.

After discussion with Anatune’s Customer Support Team, we defined a strategy to overcome all of these challenges.  Using a heated agitator with a MultiPurpose Sampler fitted to the GC/Q-TOF instrument we reprogrammed the Maestro software, and in one step, were able to incubate 12 vials simultaneously rather than the 6 we had been running previously.

We doubted the rate we could process samples leading to optimum efficiency for this project.  With the development of a robust method the specified levels were reached with comfort. This meant that reliable and accurate results were achievable and gave our client a depth of understanding about their product and process enabling decision making on product quality and performance issues.

A Contract Laboratory Perspective

As a specialist contract analytical laboratory we aim to deliver detailed insight to our clients through accurate analysis and measurement. The combination of industry experience, regulatory knowledge and the right application of technology, such as the Agilent 7200 GC/Q-TOF, is critical to supporting global developers and manufactures who need to progress product development, ensure regulatory compliance and achieve a successful market launch.

Being uniquely well equipped to perform complex analysis means that we can do things our competitors can’t and gives us an advantage in the contract analysis market.  Underpinning all of this is the strong relationship between instrument and technology supplier – in this sphere, Anatune’s experienced analytical chemists have facilitated implementation of specialist equipment with flexible and effective support that has helped our business grow and to expand into new sectors and services.

Meet our Expert

Joe Perkins is a Senior Analyst and expert in Gas Chromatography at the Intertek Wilton Laboratory in Teeside.  Joe joined Intertek in 2009 from ICI’s Research and Development team for materials science.

Learn more about Intertek’s analysis capabilities:


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