Optimisation of a thermal desorption–gas chromatography–mass spectrometry method for the analysis of monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes and diterpenes

In this study, a thermal desorption–gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (TD–GC–MS) method following sorbent tube sampling was developed for the determination of monoterpenes (MTs), sesquiterpenes (SQTs) and diterpenes (DTs) in gas-phase samples. The analytical figures of merit were determined, and the method performance was tested by conducting experiments related to, for example, sampling recovery, storage stability and ozone reactivity. The limit-of-quantification values were 13–518 pg (0.5–9.3 pptv), intermediate precision was in the range of 3 %–10 % and the expanded measurement uncertainty was in the range of 16 %–55 % for terpenes. The sampling recoveries of terpenes were approximately within inline-formula100±20 % with different inlet lines (15 m long Teflon and 1 m long heated stainless steel) and branch enclosure cuvette (6 L Teflon bag) tested. Ozone is an important factor causing losses of the studied compounds during sampling. Therefore, losses of terpenes upon ozone exposure were studied and the reaction rate coefficients were estimated. The ozone reaction rate coefficient (inline-formula $M2inlinescrollmathml{k}_{chem{\mathrm{normal O}}_{normal 3}}$ 18pt14ptsvg-formulamathimg2afdd67bc02f291b94340d5ee4870010 amt-13-3543-2020-ie00001.svg18pt14ptamt-13-3543-2020-ie00001.png ) of ent-kaurene was experimentally estimated to be 2 orders of magnitude greater than the respective literature inline-formula $M3inlinescrollmathml{k}_{chem{\mathrm{normal O}}_{normal 3}}$ 18pt14ptsvg-formulamathimg1d8812021031429d14e60c56cdadf363 amt-13-3543-2020-ie00002.svg18pt14ptamt-13-3543-2020-ie00002.png value, demonstrating the potential underestimation of DT contribution to atmospheric reactivity. The preliminary comparison between offline- and online-mode TD–GC–MS sampling and analysis revealed that diterpenes and oxygenated sesquiterpenes are lost in excessive amounts in online-mode sampling, hindering the online-mode applicability for the quantitative analysis of these compounds. A few applications to real samples were tested to identify DTs potentially emitted by boreal forest tree species. In dynamic headspace samples of pine needles and spruce twigs heated to 60 inline-formulaC, five DTs and 13 DTs could be detected in emissions, respectively. The semi-quantitatively estimated emission rates of DTs were roughly 1 to 3 orders of magnitude lower than those of MTs and SQTs. Similarly, in spruce branch enclosure emissions from a living tree, six DTs were detected once the enclosure was heated to ca. 60 inline-formulaC. In summary, the developed analytical procedure was demonstrated to be applicable for the analysis of MTs, SQTs and DTs. In addition, DTs could be detected in needles, twigs and branch enclosure emissions; however, high temperatures were required to promote the emissions and for obtaining detectable concentrations.

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Helin, Aku / Hakola, Hannele / Hellén, Heidi: Optimisation of a thermal desorption–gas chromatography–mass spectrometry method for the analysis of monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes and diterpenes. 2020. Copernicus Publications.

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