Ambient level hydrocarbons lighter than C6 were analyzed by the Deans switch-modulated comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography (GC×GC) method with flame ionization detection (FID). A thermal desorption (TD) device built in-house connects the GC×GC system to pre-concentrate the target compounds at ambient levels prior to GC analysis. Because the conventional orthogonality based on polarity difference for normal GC×GC separation does not provide sufficient retention for the target compounds of extremely high volatility, the orthogonality of non-polar vs. adsorptive force was adopted instead. The system employed a 100% polydimethyl siloxane column serving as the first-dimension column to provide separation based on dispersive interaction, with a short PLOT column serving as the second-dimension column to provide the needed retention based on gas-solid adsorption interactions.The shortest possible length of the PLOT column was tested to minimize the modulation period (PM) and wraparound and, at the same time, to maintain the desired resolution. The tests led to the final optimal parameters of 1.1m for the PLOT column length, 9s for the PM, 0.013 for the modulation duty cycle (DC) and a modulation ratio (MR) of 3.7 with minimal wraparound. Important criteria for quality assurance of precision and linearity are reported. The low cost and ease of construction and operation make the in-house Deans switch TD-GC×GC-FID system practical and useful for the analysis of light hydrocarbons in urban or industrial environments.
- Deans switch
- Thermal desorption