Trace-level Measurement of Complex Combustion Effluents and Residues using Multi-dimensional Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (MDGC-MS)

EPA Grant Number: R828190
Title: Trace-level Measurement of Complex Combustion Effluents and Residues using Multi-dimensional Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (MDGC-MS)
Investigators: Rubey, Wayne A. , Taylor, Philip H. , Striebich, Richard
Institution: University of Dayton
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Project Period: June 1, 2000 through May 31, 2003
Project Amount: $335,000
RFA: Combustion Emissions (1999) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Air Quality and Air Toxics , Air


The identification and quantitation of combustion products in the environment are clearly becoming more of a concern to the public. In order to perform assessments of risk from combustion processes such as hazardous waste incinerators, analytical techniques are required which can identify or speciate as much of the total organic (TO) emissions as possible. The ultimate intent is to compare the amount of organic material identified and quantified by target analyte-specific methodologies to organic emissions quantified by the TO methodology. The greater the amount accounted for by the target analyte-specific methodologies, the less uncertainty may be associated with the risk assessments. A limitation of this approach is that the target analyte-specific methodologies do not routinely quantify compounds of low toxicological interest; nor do they target products of incomplete combustion (PICs). Thus, the analysis can miss both toxic and non-toxic compounds. As a result, it is unknown whether the uncharacterized fraction of the TO emission possesses toxic properties. The hypothesis that we propose to test is that organic emissions and organics extracted from particulate matter (PM) are more complex than standard GC-MS-based instrumentation can currently measure. This complexity will affect quantitation for toxic compounds, thereby affecting risk assessments. There is a pressing need to better characterize these organic emissions from hazardous waste incinerators and PM extracts from various other combustion sources.


We will demonstrate that multidimensional gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (MDGC-MS) procedures significantly improve chromatographic separation for complex environmental samples. Sequential repetitive heart-cutting MDGC, with coupled ion trap mass spectrometry will be shown to be a complete analysis technique. Since sequential repetitive heart-cutting can take literally weeks to analyze one sample, we are proposing to incorporate a rapid GC technique called "thermal gradient programmed GC" (TGPGC). The entire package of MDGC, TGPGC and MS will be capable of fast and complete analyses of complex combustion effluents. We will apply these techniques to obtain more accurate risk assessments.

Expected Results:

We will demonstrate the ability of this hyphenated technique to disengage and conclusively characterize incinerator emissions and condensable organics from fine PM. We will examine samples from actual combustion effluents and residues and examine the relationship between combustion conditions and emissions. We will also demonstrate improved quantitation over conventional GC techniques and better qualitative identification of components. We anticipate that increased analytical information will provide more accurate risk assessments ,since identities and concentrations of emissions will be better understood.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 19 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 2 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

measurement methods, gas chromatography, combustion effluents, residues, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Air, Waste, particulate matter, Environmental Chemistry, Chemistry, Incineration/Combustion, Engineering, Environmental Engineering, risk assessment, mass spectrometry, qualitative identification of compounds, products of incomplete combustion (PIC), hazardous waste incinerators, analytical chemistry, complex combustion effluents, multi-dimensional gas chromatography

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2000
  • 2001
  • Final Report