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Analysis of Fuel Oxygenates by U.S. EPA Method 8260B Using Headspace Trap with GC/MS

Author:
Heidi Grecsek

PerkinElmer Life and Analytical Sciences
710 Bridgeport Avenue
Shelton, CT 06484

Introduction

The Clean Air Act amendments of 1990 require that oxygenated compounds be added to gasoline to produce fuel with increased oxygen content. Oxygenated fuel is desirable because it burns more completely, thereby reducing tailpipe emissions. The most commonly used fuel oxygenate additive is methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE).

The transportation, transfer and especially storage of oxygenated fuel in underground tanks present a risk to the environment. Leaks and spillage can contaminate ground, surface and waste waters, representing a significant threat to drinking-water supplies. Consequently, there is an increasing need for the analysis of MTBE in water by many state and federal agencies. In addition, there are new regulations requiring that MTBE be phased out, so the detection and quantification of other fuel oxygenates must also be considered.1

This field application report describes the use of a PerkinElmer TurboMatrix HS-110 Trap and Clarus 500 GC/MS optimized for low-level determination of fuel oxygenates by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Method 8260B. The headspace trap uses heat to extract (partition) the compounds out of the water into an equilibrium headspace, instead of purging. This transports a significant and highly reproducible fraction of the analytes from the sample onto a thermal desorption trap, where they are retained and focused on a multi-bed adsorbent packing before injection onto the GC column. The headspace trap offers operators low detection limits, excellent linearity and high throughput for fast sample turnaround.

Results

The heated headspace-trap transfer li
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