A flow controlled adjustable splitter was configured from a Deans switch and employed in an automated dual column gas chromatographic (GC) system for analyzing mono-aromatic compounds. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs), thermally desorbed from the sorbent trap, were split by the adjustable splitter onto two columns of different phases for separation and then detection by flame ionization detection (FID). Unlike regular splitters in which the split ratio is passively determined by the diameter and/or length of the connecting columns or tubing, the split ratio in our adjustable splitter is controlled by the auxiliary flow in the Deans switch. The auxiliary flow serves as a gas plug on either side of the column for decreasing the sample flow in one transfer line, but increasing the flow in the other. By adjusting the auxiliary flow and therefore the size of the gas plug, the split ratio can be easily varied and favorable to the side of no auxiliary gas. As an illustration, two columns, DB-1 and Cyclodex-B, were employed in this study for separating benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylenes, denoted as BTEX, in particular the structural isomers of o-, m-, p-xylenes. This configuration demonstrates that BTEX cannot be fully separated with either column, but can be deconvoluted by simple algebra if dual columns are used with a splitter. The applicability of the proposed concept was tested by analyzing a gas standard containing BTEX at different split ratios and with various sample sizes, all leading to a constant ratio of m-xylene versus p-xylene.
- Deans switch