Halogens (fluorine, chlorine, bromine, iodine) and sulfur are corrosive, hazardous chemicals that contribute to environmental pollution. However, determining these analytes in petrochemicals, gaseous samples, solid samples, and complex chemicals cannot be easily done using conventional ion chromatography (IC) and the sample preparation required can be costly and labor intensive. Automated combustion IC reduces the time and labor for determination of corrosive halogens and sulfur in difficult samples by eliminating these complex sample preparation steps.

The Thermo Scientific Combustion Ion Chromatography (CIC) System performs automated qualitative and quantitative analysis of halogens and sulfur in difficult samples. This automated system is sensitive, easy to use, saves time and its sample preparation procedure produces fewer environmental contaminants than other sample preparation techniques, such as acid digestions or back extractions from organic solutions.

Combustion IC consists of four main steps:

Combustion IC process
  1. Introduce sample
    Liquid, solid or semisolid samples are introduced into the horizonal furnace using an automatic sample changer. For gaseous samples, an injector is used.

  2. Perform pyrolysis
    Samples are decomposed in the presence of humidified oxygen at high temperature (800–1100 ˚C).

  3. Trap volatiles
    Volatile products are trapped in an aqueous absorbing solution, which may contain phosphate as an internal standard for calibration.

  4. Perform ion analysis
    Samples in the absorption solution are transferred to the IC system to determine the concentrations of individual halides and sulfur species (e.g., sulfite, sulfate, and thiosulfate). Total sulfate can be determined by further oxidizing the sulfur species using hydrogen peroxide.

The process flow within the combustion IC system

The process flow within the combustion IC system.

CIC provides accurate and reproducible results for the analysis of halogens and sulfur in a variety of environmental, industrial, and food and beverage samples, often in less than 12 minutes, with minimal method development. Sample types include pharmaceutical raw materials and finished products, polymers, petrochemicals, ores, inks, metals, polishing agents, lubricating oil, electronic components, and environmental or wastewaters.

CIC can be used as a complementary screening technique to LC-MS/MS for the analysis of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) by determining total adsorbable organic fluorine (AOF) as an indicator of the presence of fluorinated compounds. If the total mass of fluorine present in the sample exceeds that of the targeted PFAS screen, then other PFAS that were not on the target list may be present in the sample. By screening total fluorine, labs can identify additional potential sources contributing to PFAS contamination, enabling them to select and analyze only “suspicious” samples using LC-MS/MS instrumentation. With the addition of AOF determination by CIC, labs can optimize the utilization of their analytical instrumentation to analyze PFAS in water. Learn more about our PFAS analysis solutions.

Detailed CIC methods can be found in the Thermo Scientific AppsLab Library of Analytical Applications  and in the resources section below.

For more CIC resources and general information about our ion chromatography systems, visit our Resource Center.

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