An Improved, Automated Whole-Air Sampler and Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry Analysis System for Volatile Organic Compounds in the Atmosphere
Atmospheric Measurement Techniques Discussions
Volatile organic compounds were quantified during two aircraft-based field campaigns using highly-automated, whole air samplers with expedited post-flight analysis via a new custom-built, field-deployable gas chromatography &ndash; mass spectrometry instrument. During flight, air samples were pressurized with a stainless steel bellows compressor into electropolished stainless steel canisters. The air samples were analyzed using a novel gas chromatograph system designed specifically for
... ecifically for field-use which eliminates the need for liquid nitrogen. Instead, a Stirling cooler is used for cryogenic sample pre-concentration at temperatures as low as &minus;165 °C. The analysis system was fully automated on a 20-minute cycle to allow for unattended processing of an entire flight of 72 sample canisters within 30 hours, thereby reducing typical sample residence times in the canisters to less than three days. The new analytical system is capable of quantifying a wide suite of C2 to C10 organic compounds at part-per-trillion sensitivity. This manuscript describes the sampling and analysis systems, along with the data analysis procedures which includes a new peak-fitting software package for rapid chromatographic data reduction. Instrument sensitivities, uncertainties and system artifacts are presented for 35 trace gas species in canister samples. Comparisons of reported mixing ratios from each field campaign with measurements from other instruments are also presented.