Single photon ionization orthogonal acceleration time-of-flight mass spectrometry and resonance enhanced multiphoton ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry for evolved gas analysis in thermogravimetry: Comparative analysis of crude oils.
Coupling thermal analysis (TA) with a subsequent analytical method in order to investigate evolved gaseous products from the thermal analysis is a well established method. A popular practice to analyze the gaseous products evolving from thermal analysis is mass spectrometry using electron impact ionization (EI).(1-4) As the kinetic energy of the electrons thereby is typically far beyond the ionization energies of the assayed samples, the electron impact effects fragmentation particularly of organic compounds, hampering the correlation of the ion signals to the gaseous compounds. This applies for complex mixtures in particular. Fragmentation can be reduced using so-called soft ionization techniques. In the course of the presented setup, single photon ionization (SPI) using electron beam pumped excimer lamps (EBEL) emitting vacuum ultraviolet (VUV) light (lambda = 126 nm) is employed. For the instrumentation, a TA system has been coupled to an EBEL-SPI-oaTOFMS (oaTOFMS: orthogonal acceleration time-of-flight mass spectrometry) system using a heated transfer capillary in order to detect semivolatile organic substances from the gas flow of a thermobalance with high temporal resolution. Presented measurements focus on crude oils of different origins. In-depth analysis demonstrates that it is possible to tell apart different crude oil samples on the basis of temperature resolved mass spectra gained from the described setup. TA allows for the assay of crude oils without sample preparation via a distillation process which precedes the thermal decomposition of nonvolatile oil components, i.e., resins and asphaltenes. The gases that evolve during thermal analysis are a complex mixture of organic compounds. These can be analyzed without losing molecular information using mass spectrometry with a soft ionization technique, such as SPI.