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Solving Analytical Challenges with Multi-Vendor Solutions

Today’s analytical instrumentation buyer has a range of solutions available when it comes to solving their analytical challenges. Narrowing down the best analytical solution includes investigating and researching these different options and techniques. And one of the most important decisions: which brand of instrument to choose.

The analytical instrumentation market is dominated by a handful of companies, including Agilent Technologies, Bruker Corporation, Thermo Fisher Scientific, and others. The major vendors in the market have deep product portfolios that cater to different requirements of the chemists and researchers.   

There are also a growing number of smaller manufacturers that have carved out a space in the analytical instrumentation market. And instead of trying to take on the big companies à la David vs. Goliath, these smaller manufacturers are operating in niche segments – offering complimentary instruments and accessories that can help lab managers increase testing throughput with increased confidence in results. In essence, these systems are extending the capabilities of standard platforms – resulting in in what we call multi-vendor analytical instrumentation solutions or multi-vendor solutions for short.

 

What is a Multi-Vendor Solution?  

In the analytical instrumentation industry, a multi-vendor solution is an integrated system comprised of instrumentation from more than one instrumentation manufacturer or vendor. Sometimes they are referred to as cross-platform integrated solutions. But semantics aside, anytime two or more instrument vendors are leveraged in a tightly integrated solution, this can result in a powerhouse system that can solve a unique analytical challenge.   

 Some examples of multi vendor solutions that Quantum Analytics offers:  

  • Pyrolysis-Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (Agilent GC/MS integrated with a Frontier Pyrolyzer)
  • Thermal Desorption-Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (Agilent GC/MS integrated with Markes Thermal Desorption system)
  • Gas Chromatography-Flame Ionization Detection with Polyarc (Agilent GC-FID integrated with a Polyarc FID Accessory)

 

Pyrolysis-Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry  

The first multi vendor solution we’ll explore is pyrolysis-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. It is often abbreviated as pyrolysis GC-MS, PY-GC/MS, or Pyr-GC/MS. It is a powerful and simple technique comprised of a pyrolyzer coupled with a gas chromatography mass spectrometer system. Using this technique, sufficient heat is used to break down the organic bonds of a complex species into smaller and stable molecules referred to as pyrolyzates. The pyrolyzates form and their relative intensities provide insight into the nature of the original material.  

Frontier EGA/PY-3030D Multi-Shot Pyrolyzer Pyrolysis GC/MS Training
Frontier EGA/PY-3030D Multi-Shot Pyrolyzer

 

This technique has a wide variety of applications for identifying organic composition of unknown samples by providing detailed information about the compounds present in a sample: molecular formula, structure, and eluting time.   

In addition, Pyrolysis GC-MS is used for identification of complex polymers, copolymers, volatiles, and additives. This technique which can be used both qualitatively and quantitatively, allows multiple and customized analysis on the same sample.

Quantum Analytics is the exclusive distributor of Frontier pyrolysis solutions integrated with the Agilent platform. The Frontier multi-shot pyrolyzer delivers high-performance and ease of use features. Some analytical techniques using Frontier Pyrolysis are listed below as examples. These techniques help you quickly solve the most difficult analytical challenges in an efficient and effective way.    

  • Evolved Gas Analysis (EGA): Referred to as “road map”, this technique determines the thermal profile of the sample complexity when gases evolved during a customized programmed heating are transferred directly into the MS. 
  • Single-Shot Analysis: Simple and fast technique for flash-Pyrolysis. 
  • Double-Shot Analysis: Solid technique for identifying volatile fractions (residual solvents, additives, monomers, oligomers, etc.) as well as determination of polymeric fragments and the breakdown of the compounds seen in Desorption. 
  • Heart Cuts (HC): Powerful technique for discovering detailed composition information of each thermal zone obtained from EGA. 
  • Reactive Pyrolysis (RxPY): Valuable technique for fully characterizing a complex matrix in which target compounds cannot be separated and yield overlapping ion fragments. RxPY derivatizes the target compounds for easy MS detection and quantification. 

 

This multi-vendor solution is gaining greater popularity as of late due to the growing need for quantifying microplastics in environmental samples.  

 

Thermal Desorption-Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry  

The second multi-vendor solution we’ll outline here is thermal desorption-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. This is also referred to as TD-GC/MS. Analytical thermal desorption is a sample preparation and introduction technique for gas chromatography that overcomes the drawbacks of conventional sample preparation techniques, such as solvent extraction, solid-phase micro-extraction, purge-and-trap and static headspace.   

Markes TD100-xr Automated Thermal Desorber
Markes TD100-xr Automated Thermal Desorber

 

Advantages of thermal desorption include:  

  • Greater sensitivity than conventional sample preparation techniques. 
  • Applicability to a wider range of compound classes and sample types. 
  • It is safer and more environmentally friendly than solvent extraction. 
  • It is more easily automated and validated. 
  • Compliant with key standard methods. 

 

Thermal desorption is an incredibly dynamic technique. Here are just a few examples of applications that are ideally suited for thermal desorption-GC/MS:  

  • Environmental monitoring (Monitoring hazardous VOCs and SVOCs in air, water and soil – including PFAS management
  • Material and consumer products (accessing chemical emissions) 
  • Breath analysis (identifying VOCs in breath to assist with disease diagnosis) 
  • Food and drink (aroma profiling for improved quality control and product development) 
  • Automotive (monitor emissions from car trim components and their effect on in-vehicle air quality) 
  • Defense (Improving homeland security and monitoring chemical agents) 
  • Forensics (helps generate robust evidence to support court cases) 
  • Chemical ecology (investigate the roles of naturally occurring chemicals within ecosystems) 
  • Hydrogen fuels (analysis of hydrogen fuel impurities) 

 

Quantum Analytics is an authorized distributor for the Markes International line of thermal desorption systems.

 

Gas Chromatography-Flame Ionization Detection with Polyarc  

What do aldehydes, chlorofluorocarbons and silylated compounds have in common? They are a pain to analyze via GC-FID! The flame ionization detector (FID) is the most widely used detector because of its simplicity, large linear range (from 0.1 ppb to 100%), and general response to carbon.  

So, when performing GC/FID, how does one solve the lack of uniform response and low response to certain compounds?  

This brings us to the third multi-vendor solution we’ll outline – GC/FID equipped with the Polyarc system. The Polyarc system is an add-on device for GC/FID analysis that completely converts all organic compounds to methane via a two-step combustion-reduction reaction for a uniform carbon response in the FID. This allows for more accurate quantification, increased sensitivity for certain compounds, compound independent calibration, and overall simpler analysis.  

 

polyarc reactor
The Polyarc GC-FID accessory, from Activated Research Company, helps overcome some of the challenges associated with FID analysis.

 

The Polyarc can be installed in any open position that has an access point to the GC oven. For Agilent instruments, this means: front/back detector, front/back inlet, valve box position (if no valve box is installed), and auxiliary detector position (where the MS is typically installed).    

Check out this application note that explains how an FID equipped with a Polyarc reactor is not only highly sensitive to carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, formamide, formaldehyde, and formic acid compounds, but also provides a response factor that is equivalent for all carbon-containing compounds, thus eliminating the need for time-consuming calibration.  

Quantum Analytics is an authorized distributor of the Polyarc GC-FID accessory.

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