An automated gas chromatographic system aimed at performing unattended measurements of ambient volatile organic compounds was configured and tested. By exploiting various off-the-shelf components, the thermal desorption unit was easily assembled and can be connected with any existing commercial gas chromatograph in the laboratory to minimize cost. The performance of the complete thermal desorption gas chromatographic system was assessed by analyzing a standard mixture containing 56 target nonmethane hydrocarbons from C2-C12 at sub-ppb levels. Particular attention was given to the enrichment efficiency of the C2 compounds, such as ethane (b.p. = -88.6°C) and ethylene (b.p. = -104.2°C), due to their extremely high volatilities. Quality assurance was performed in terms of the linearity, precision and limits of detection of the target compounds. To further validate the system, field measurements of target compounds in ambient air were compared with those of a commercial total hydrocarbon analyzer and a carbon monoxide analyzer. Highly coherent results from the three instruments were observed during a two-month period of synchronized measurements. Moreover, the phenomenon of opposite diurnal variations between the biogenic isoprene and anthropogenic species was exploited to help support the field applicability of the thermal desorption gas chromatographic method.
- Air quality/ Deans switch
- Ozone precursors