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The Analysis of Biomarkers in Crude Oil without Sample Preparation

Martin Perkins

12th December 2013


Biomarkers are important compounds in the characterisation of crude oil World-wide

Biomarkers are a large class of hydrocarbons that are used to characterise sources of crude oil. These measurements are important in oil exploration, refining and to identify the sources of oil spills.

The complexity of the matrix means that, currently, sample preparation is extensive and involves the extraction and fractionation of samples of crude oil followed by several GC-MS runs, each targeting a different set of compounds. This is a slow, complex and expensive process.

Anyone involved in this kind of work, will be interested in the contents of a recent application note written by Frank David of the Research Institute for Chromatography and Sofia Aronova of Agilent Technologies that shows how this work can be simplified by carrying out the analysis on a GCqTOF.

The sample preparation is reduced to a simple extraction/centrifugation/dilution process (that can almost certainly be fully automated using a GERSTEL MPS).  Following this simplified sample preparation, the analysis can be performed with a single run on an Agilent 7200 GCqTOF.

The really neat thing about this application note is that it shows how biomarkers such as the dibenzothiophens and hopanes can be analysed using the instruments accurate mass capability to selectively detect these compounds and how, using the instrument in MS/MS mode, also permits other trace compounds (steranes) to be detected.

You can read a copy of the application note here.

Using the GCqTOF for this analysis could save some people a great deal of work!