Comparative study of the adsorption performance of a multi-sorbent bed (Carbotrap, Carbopack X, Carboxen 569) and a Tenax TA adsorbent tube for the analysis of volatile organic compounds (VOCs)

E Gallego, F J Roca, J F Perales, X Guardino
Talanta 2010 May 15, 81 (3): 916-24
A comparison between two types of adsorbent tubes, the commonly used Tenax TA and a multi-sorbent bed (Carbotrap, Carbopack X, Carboxen 569) tube developed in our laboratory, has been done to evaluate their usefulness in the analysis of VOCs in ambient air. Duplicate indoor and outdoor samples of Tenax TA and multi-sorbent tubes of 10, 20, 40, 60 and 90l were taken in Barcelona city (Spain) on July and October of 2009. Breakthrough values (defined as %VOCs found in the back tube) were determined for all sampling volumes connecting two sampling tubes in series. The analysis was performed by automatic thermal desorption (ATD) coupled with capillary gas chromatography (GC)/mass spectrometry detector (MSD). Significant differences between the concentrations obtained-from multi-sorbent bed and Tenax TA tubes are observed for the very volatile compounds (56 degrees C<boiling point<100 degrees C and 4kPa<vapour pressure (20 degrees C)<47kPa) (e.g. acetone, isopropanol, n-hexane) and for alcohols and chlorinated compounds (e.g. 1-butanol, carbon disulphide, dichloromethane, chloroform, carbon tetrachloride, trichloroethylene, tetrachloroethylene), being the concentrations found higher in multi-sorbent bed than in Tenax TA tubes. On the other hand, mainly all compounds with boiling points higher than 100 degrees C (except alpha-pinene, chlorinated and polar compounds) do not show significant differences between the obtained multi-sorbent bed and Tenax TA tube concentrations. For the concentrations obtained (5ppt to 100ppb), Tenax TA present high breakthrough values (from 0 to 77%) for mainly all compounds and sampling volumes studied. On the other hand, multi-sorbent bed tubes do not exhibit important breakthrough values for these compounds, except the VVOCs ethanol (for all sampled volumes), and acetone, dichloromethane and isopropanol (for sampling volumes over 40l). The concentration differences observed between Tenax TA and multi-sorbent bed tubes are directly related to the high breakthrough values determined for Tenax TA adsorbent.

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