Pyrolysis–gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (Py-GC-MS) is a method of chemical analysis where a sample is introduced to an anaerobically heated environment and broken down into smaller stable fragments or components through controlled thermal degradation (pyrolysis). The use of Py-GC-MS allows researchers to perform qualitative and quantitative analysis of components in environmental specimens. By eliminating the need for extraction and dilution sample preparation, Py-GC-MS can characterize a wide variety of polymers and composite materials that cannot be analyzed using traditional GC-MS methods. The Py-GC-MS technique is suitable for a variety of environmental applications, including the identification and characterization of micro- and nano-plastic contamination.
- Py-GC-MS supports the Terrestrial-Atmospheric Processes Integrated Research Platform by assisting EMSL researchers in the chemical and molecular characterization of atmospheric aerosols and in the analysis of natural organic matter in soils and sediments.
- The qualitative and quantitative analyses of environmental samples assists the Biogeochemical Transformations Integrated Research Platform to answer fundamental questions surrounding the chemical interactions and biogeochemical transformations of natural organic compounds or critical contaminants within the environment.
- CDS Model 6200 Pyroprobe
- Shimadzu GCMS-QP2020 NX gas chromatograph-mass spectrometer (GC-MS)
Tips for success
- Solid powder or concentrated suspension/aqueous samples work best for this instrument.
- A small sample size (µg to a few mg or µL) is needed for py-GC-MS, so careful sample selection should be taken to ensure they are representative of the system under study.