Final Report: Pneumatic Focusing Gas Chromatography: A 3-in-1 Continuous, Automated, Ambient-Fenceline-Fugative Emissions Instrument

EPA Contract Number: EPD05062
Title: Pneumatic Focusing Gas Chromatography: A 3-in-1 Continuous, Automated, Ambient-Fenceline-Fugative Emissions Instrument
Investigators: O'Brien, Robert J.
Small Business: VOC Technologies Inc.
EPA Contact: Manager, SBIR Program
Phase: II
Project Period: April 1, 2005 through June 30, 2006
Project Amount: $224,934
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase II (2005) Recipients Lists
Research Category: Air Quality and Air Toxics , SBIR - Air Pollution , Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)


This project, conducted by VOC Technologies, Inc. (VOCTEC), involved designing improvements in both software and hardware and commercialization of the company’s pneumatic focusing gas chromatography technology for continuous monitoring of volatile organic compound (VOCs) and air toxics. It also demonstrated the performance of the product in a year-long monitoring program at a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Superfund site in Fargo, North Dakota, and at an Oregon Department of Environmental Quality Air Toxics site in Portland, Oregon. The pneumatic focusing gas chromatography (PFGC) is constructed entirely within a personal computer and this work involved both software and hardware development as well as proof-of-performance demonstration.

Summary/Accomplishments (Outputs/Outcomes):

In Phase II, VOCTEC carried out a year-long ambient TO-14 inter-comparison under contract to the DEQ. This involved DEQ’s traditional EPA-approved sixth-day TO-14 canister analysis and VOCTEC’s 24/7 in situ ambient air analysis. Additionally, the TO-14 canisters were analyzed using PFGC for comparison with the in situ data. In past work, VOCTEC has followed diurnal variation of a major VOC component that was not present when the canister was analyzed. Apparently, this compound either adsorbs or decomposes in the canister. During Phase II, VOCTECT attempted to make major improvements in chromatographic resolution to better separate hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) from less toxic VOCs.

The PFGC developed by VOCTEC performed reliably during these two studies but significant problems were encountered with instrument overheating, signal noise, and column performance. The importance of maintaining carrier gas pressure was demonstrated. The source of these problems has been identified and resolved.


The instrument is commercially ready for sale, lease, or contract monitoring by VOCTEC Technologies at any location with standard line voltage. Commercial booths were maintained at the June 2006 Air & Waste Management Association Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, and the July 2006 Indoor Environmental Quality: Problems, Research and Solutions, July 17-19, 2006, Durham, North Carolina.

Journal Articles:

No journal articles submitted with this report: View all 5 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

small business, SBIR, volatile organic compound, hazardous air pollutants, gas chromatography, pneumatic focusing gas chromatography, PFGC, level of detection, LOD, flame ionization detector, FID, photoionization detector, PID, air, ecosystem protection/environmental exposure and risk, physical aspects, pollutants/toxics, research, monitoring, monitoring/modeling, state of matter, particulate matter, VOCs, volatile organic compounds, aerosol, aerosol analyzers, air quality field measurements, air quality model, air sampling, ambient air pollution, atmospheric aerosols, atmospheric chemistry, atmospheric measurements, chemical characteristics, chemical speciation sampling, continuous emissions monitoring, emissions measurement, fugitive emissions, gas chromatography, hazardous air pollutants, human exposure, human health effects, modeling, modeling studies, monitoring stations, particulate matter mass,, RFA, Scientific Discipline, PHYSICAL ASPECTS, Air, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, POLLUTANTS/TOXICS, RESEARCH, particulate matter, Air Quality, Environmental Chemistry, Chemicals, Monitoring/Modeling, Analytical Chemistry, Monitoring, Environmental Monitoring, Atmospheric Sciences, State of Matter, Engineering, Chemistry, & Physics, atmospheric measurements, chemical characteristics, human health effects, air quality models, HAPS, hazardous air pollutants, monitoring stations, VOCs, emissions measurement, photoionization, modeling, gas chromatography, air sampling, fugitive emissions, air quality model, human exposure, atmospheric aerosols, particulate matter mass, continuous emissions monitoring, VOC emission controls, pneumatic focusing gas chromatography, aerosol, modeling studies, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), air quality field measurements, aerosol analyzers, atmospheric chemistry, chemical speciation sampling

SBIR Phase I:

Pneumatic Focusing Gas Chromatography: A Continuous, Automated, Ambient, Fenceline and Fugitive Emissions Monitoring Instrument  | Final Report