Headspace gas chromatography/mass spectrometry is used to identify volatile compounds given off by a material.
Solid or liquid samples are sealed in headspace vials. The headspace vials are heated to drive the volatile compounds into the gas phase. Sample vials can be agitated during heating. A gas-tight syringe is used to sample the headspace in the vials for GC/MS analysis. If greater sensitivity is required, solid phase micro-extraction (SPME) can be used to concentrate volatiles prior to GC/MS analysis.
Virtually any sample that can be made to fit into a headspace vial or sampling bag can be tested. However, the sample matrix itself should not be highly volatile. The required sample size for headspace GC/MS is inversely proportional to the concentration(s) of volatile compounds that must be detected or quantified. A sample size of 0.1 g to 10 g is typical for headspace GC/MS. Samples should be sent packaged separately from one another in tightly sealed containers that don’t off-gas volatiles. Contact an expert to talk about your specific sample considerations and chromatography testing needs.
We thoroughly enjoy these projects; they tend to be extremely unique and interesting. Some examples include:
- Identification of source of foul smell coming from a popular snack food
- Identification of odor coming from mulch on a playground
- Analysis of strong and objectionable odor coming from dog food containers
- Identification of compounds responsible for off-odor in post-consumer recycled carpet