When it comes to analyzing polymeric materials, it is hard to beat the capabilities and power of the Multi-Functional Pyrolysis System by Frontier Laboratories. And at the center of this system is the Frontier EGA/PY-3030D multi-shot pyrolyzer.
For this article, we decided to give some well-deserved attention to the exciting Frontier pyrolyzer accessories that support and amplify the analytical power of the multi-functional pyrolysis solution.
Specifically, we’ll introduce and discuss the following Frontier accessories and peripherals:
When we combine the pyrolyzer with optional peripheral accessories (as shown in Figure 1), even greater characterization capabilities can be achieved. These accessory devices all play an important role when performing rapid characterization of polymeric materials in detail.
Let’s explore each of the accessories in the system and outline how they help facilitate routine and specialized analysis.
As we stated before, the Multi-Functional Pyrolysis System centers around the powerful Frontier pyrolysis instrument, either the EGA/PY-3030D multi-shot pyrolyzer or the PY-3030S single-shot pyrolyzer. Combining these pyrolyzers with peripheral accessories increases the system capabilities, making the system ideal for a variety of polymer analysis applications.
Deserving of first mention is Frontier’s tried and true time-saver, the Frontier Vent-Free GC/MS adapter (sometimes referred to as VFA). The Vent-Free GC/MS Adapter is an essential tool that allows you to switch columns easily.
As we know, mass spectrometers stay in a vacuum to operate, which means the system must be leak-free from the pyrolyzer to the mass spectrometer (MS). Unfortunately, changing the column opens the MS to air, which means breaking and reestablishing the vacuum every time you swap columns. This step of venting and pumping down the MS takes up valuable analysis time.
We can easily avoid this by running a restrictive line from the end of the separation column to the MS. The Vent-Free GC/MS Adapter serves this very purpose, thus allowing you to change columns in minutes. Plus, the Vent-Free GC/MS Adapter works independently of the pyrolyzer and it’s something you can easily install yourself.
The Vent-Free GC/MS Adapter, Frontier pyrolyzer consumables, and other select accessories can be purchased directly from our online store.
Cryotrapping is a technique used in chromatography to allow detection or improve the detection of low-boiling point analytes. But cryotrapping has its own place in pyrolysis as well, especially in recapturing or better capturing low boiling point analytes as we introduce lengthy thermal desorption times and elevated furnace temperatures.
The Frontier MicroJet Cryo-Trap, also referred to as “MJT” captures volatiles by delivering liquid nitrogen in some capacity to a small section of the head of the column where the analytes are trapped. Any excess liquid nitrogen is dissipated, which means only this part of the column is efficiently cooled without affecting the overall oven temperature. This also means that when the run starts, the column efficiently heats back up with the GC oven. The analytes, from low-boiling points to high-boiling points, then begin their separation.
To learn about the fundamentals of the Frontier MicroJet Cryo Trap and how it can help you discover missing compounds on your chromatogram, watch this explainer video.
This handle over the separation of analytes not only results in improved peak shapes but also in a chromatogram with all the analytes of interest, from the light end to the heavier end.
Heart-cutting is one mode of the pyrolyzer that allows you to thermally separate out the various components in your sample. As an example, the below sample has three thermal zones, A, B, and C. To thermal sample each zone, the same sample cup moves up and down the furnace to undergo multiple thermal desorption steps. The Frontier Selective Sampler is paired with heart-cutting as it provides a nifty time-saving trick: you can pick which thermal zones you want to keep and which you don’t.
With the Frontier Selective Sampler, if you want to collect a chromatogram for a thermal zone, the pyrolyzates are allowed to go on the column. If you don’t, the pyrolyzates are purged out, and you don’t have to wait for a chromatographic run to finish before sampling the next zone.
The key takeaway of the Selective Sampler is that it saves time when heart-cutting.
To learn more about the Frontier Selective Sampler, and how it allows hear-cut analysis by sampling any temperature zone in an EGA thermogram, check out this explainer video.
The Frontier Multi-Functional Splitless Sampler is a Frontier pyrolyzer accessory that performs three major functions:
These techniques are commonly used in chromatography in a variety of applications. However, they can be automated with pyrolysis. The Multi-Functional Splitless Sampler performs these functions using a flow controller connected to a splitter placed between a pre-column and the column.
In splitless mode, the Multi-Functional Splitless Sampler allows more analytes to go on the column for trace pyrolyzates analysis. In solvent cutting, the sampler flushes excess solvent for a chromatogram without a large solvent peak. Backflushing vents heavier analytes, preventing carryover and system contamination. Using the appropriate precolumn also comes with the benefit of improved peak separation.
The Multi-Functional Splitless Sampler enhances chromatography by achieving sensitivity, keeping the system clean, cutting unwanted analytes, and improving separation. It is a popular accessory in microplastic analysis.
The opportunity to see how our samples behave in simulated environments is significant to studying polymers and formulating resins. For example, the pyrolyzer allows us to observe how samples behave under different temperatures.
That said, pyrolysis occurs in an inert atmosphere, not air. However, samples are subject to heat in various environments, such as burning in air, molding in a machine under nitrogen, or in a reactor with methane. Having the ability to use the temperature programming of the pyrolyzer with the ability to change the atmosphere in it is a huge advantage. This solution is offered with the Frontier Carrier Gas Selector.
With the Carrier Gas Selector, the user can choose a different carrier gas in the pyrolyzer such as air. In addition, the user can easily automate or switch between helium and another gas. As in the example of polystyrene below, the user can easily observe the products of their sample as they thermally decompose in an inert versus oxygen-rich atmosphere.
Outside of studying our samples in a different atmosphere, we may want to observe them when exposed to other elements such as radiation. Many production resins and additives must withstand weathering in an outdoor environment or exposure to radiation in electronic equipment. The UV irradiator provides intense UV light delivered via a fiber optic cable to a sample placed in the pyrolyzer. In this setup, the exposure and analysis of the sample are done in one system. There is no transfer of sample from a weathering simulator to the analyzer.
First, the sample is exposed to UV inside of the pyrolyzer. Then, the products of UV exposure are directly thermally desorbed. The sample can be exposed to UV for any length of time, which means you can test the effects of weathering on your sample within a shortened time span, right on top of your GC. The UV Irradiator does have an automation option, and is often paired with the MicroJet Cryo-Trap.
We all know the convenience that autosamplers provide. They are a major time-saver and when it comes to Frontier pyrolyzer accessories, the ability to auto-sample is no exception.
The Frontier Auto-Shot Sampler has 48 slots on its sample carousel where the sample Eco-Cups can be placed. The Auto-Shot Sampler has the additional capability to move the Eco-Cup from within and out of the furnace at ambient temperature. This means the various modes of operation such as heart-cutting and double-shot can be automated, as well.
Finally, the Auto-Shot Sampler is compatible with many of the accessories in the Frontier eco-system. This enables you can set up a run, select what thermal zones you want to keep, what to cryo-trap, what to sample in the air, and so on. The flexibility allows you to set a run with the methods you want so you can come back to the results of your experiment the next morning.
One can’t talk about Frontier accessories without talking about cryogenic milling. The Frontier Cryo Mill is a compact benchtop grinding mill with powerful and shear crushing capabilities.
The Cryo-Mill makes the sample grinding process into a simple pre-treatment operation. By using a special high elastic belt with excellent durability, efficient crushing is achieved in a short time by high-speed three-dimensional figure-8 motion. This is the ideal sample treatment device for instrumental analysis, especially in crushing, stirring, and dispersing polymer materials.
You can purchase the Frontier IQ-MILL 2700 Cryogenic Mill directly from our Online Store.
By its own merit, the Frontier Pyrolyzer is an incredible tool that enables you to get a deeper understanding of materials and polymers. With the right accessories, you can expand its capabilities even further and unlock even more possibilities. From the Auto-Shot Sampler to the MicroJet Cryo-Trap, the Frontier accessories enable you to characterize materials like never before!
For more information on Frontier accessories, watch our on-demand webinar, “Accessorize This! Expanding the Capabilities of the Frontier Pyrolysis System”.
Quantum Analytics is the go-to source for all your pyrolysis needs. We’ll help you find the right combination of accessories to extend the capabilities of your Frontier Pyrolyzer, and high productivity and efficiency in the lab. Contact us today to take advantage of our expertise and get the most out of your Frontier Pyrolyzer.
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