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Petroleum Analysis

Online Petroleum Analysis Using Fast, Chemical Ionization Mass Spectrometry


Petroleum Analysis

Many industrial processes require analytical instrumentation that can find trace contaminants in complex matrices. Of similar importance is the ability to analyze and compare specific groups of compounds, while avoiding matrix effects. Crude oil is an especially complex substance, containing thousands of species. Although the same types of compounds -alkanes, alkenes, aromatics, and cyclic alkenes- are usually dominant, the oil composition is highly variable depending on the source reservoir. Crude oil samples can include nitrogen, oxygen, and sulfur-containing VOCs [1]. Small amounts of these trace chemicals can dramatically affect the price per barrel [2].

Fast chemical ionization mass spectrometry can be used to simultaneously analyze hundreds of volatiles found in crude oil, with little to no sample preparation. Careful selection of a reagent ion such as ammonium (NH4+) can enable targeted analysis of select groups of compounds present at trace levels, while avoiding matrix effects.

[1] Speight, J. G.: The Chemistry and Technology of Petroleum: Fourth Edition, 4 ed., Chemical Industries, CRC Press, Laramie, WY, 2006.

[2] Qing, Wu. (2010, January). Processing high TAN crude. Digital Refining.


  • Online Petroleum VOC Analysis Using the Vocus CI-TOF

    • Highest sensitivity available with sub-ppt limits of detection
    • High mass resolving power enables identification of individual compounds within complex mixtures
    • Real-time and fast data output capturing rapid changes in VOC concentrations and suitable for mobile monitoring
    • Full spectrum acquisition allows measurements of wide range of compounds simultaneously

    petroleum analysis

    Chemically detailed headspace analysis of three different samples of oil (San Joaquin Valley Heavy, XTO, and Tufflo 1200) using a Vocus 2R PTR equipped with NH4+-mode reagent chemistry. High mass resolution allows the separation of different functional groups (described by Kendrick mass defect, y-axis) and chemical composition (marker color) over a wide mass range (x-axis). The marker size indicates the relative abundance of each individual species and is shown on a log scale over four orders of magnitude, demonstrating the wide dynamic range of the instrument. Each analysis required less than 30 seconds.

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