Hydrocarbons in Petrochemicals: Identification with GC×GC/TOF MS

  • Fig. 1: Contour plot of diesel sample analysed by GC×GC/TOF MS, with the inset showing a portion of the chromatogram overlaid with a ‘blob plot’ indicating compound groupings.Fig. 1: Contour plot of diesel sample analysed by GC×GC/TOF MS, with the inset showing a portion of the chromatogram overlaid with a ‘blob plot’ indicating compound groupings.
  • Fig. 1: Contour plot of diesel sample analysed by GC×GC/TOF MS, with the inset showing a portion of the chromatogram overlaid with a ‘blob plot’ indicating compound groupings.
  • Fig. 2: Mass spectra (top) and NIST library match (bottom), alongside the 3D-rendered peak shape, for n-octacosane, n-hexane, and 3,7-dimethyldibenzothiophene (a sulfur-containing three-ring heterocycle) in the diesel sample. The inset for n-octacosane shows the quality of the match for the low-abundance molecular ion cluster.
  • © Divulgação Petrobras

Hydrocarbons analysis in petrochemicals is crucial for qualtity control in petrochemistry. This paper demonstrates the high degree of separation that is possible by using GC×GC in the analysis of highly complex petrochemical products, and how the ­‘quadrupole-like' spectra of a modern TOF MS allows automated searching against large commercial databases.

Precise characterisation of petrochemical samples is crucial for quality control, and also to understand the reactions that take place during refining processes. Comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography (GC×GC) offers significant advantages over conventional chromatography for such analyses, with its vastly expanded separation space and the added benefit of highly structured groupings of compounds.

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