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Characterizing the Performance of a Compact BTEX GC-PID for Near-Real Time Analysis and Field Deployment.

  • Author(s): Frausto-Vicencio, Isis;
  • Moreno, Alondra;
  • Goldsmith, Hugh;
  • Hsu, Ying-Kuang;
  • Hopkins, Francesca M
  • et al.

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In this study, we test the performance of a compact gas chromatograph with photoionization detector (GC-PID) and optimize the configuration to detect ambient (sub-ppb) levels of benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene isomers (BTEX). The GC-PID system was designed to serve as a relatively inexpensive (~10 k USD) and field-deployable air toxic screening tool alternative to conventional benchtop GCs. The instrument uses ambient air as a carrier gas and consists of a Tenax-GR sorbent-based preconcentrator, a gas sample valve, two capillary columns, and a photoionization detector (PID) with a small footprint and low power requirement. The performance of the GC-PID has been evaluated in terms of system linearity and sensitivity in field conditions. The BTEX-GC system demonstrated the capacity to detect BTEX at levels as high as 500 ppb with a linear calibration range of 0-100 ppb. A detection limit lower than 1 ppb was found for all BTEX compounds with a sampling volume of 1 L. No significant drift in the instrument was observed. A time-varying calibration technique was established that requires minimal equipment for field operations and optimizes the sampling procedure for field measurements. With an analysis time of less than 15 min, the compact GC-PID is ideal for field deployment of background and polluted atmospheres for near-real time measurements of BTEX. The results highlight the application of the compact and easily deployable GC-PID for community monitoring and screening of air toxics.

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