• Element selective gas chromatograph mass spectrometer
    ELEM-SPOT Element Selective Gas Chromatograph Mass Spectrometer.

Mass Spectrometry & Spectroscopy

Element selective gas chromatograph mass spectrometer

Apr 20 2024

Shimadzu Corporation announces the launch of ELEM-SPOT, an element selective gas chromatograph mass spectrometer. It is the first product in the world that can selectively detect oxygen- and nitrogen-containing compounds that affect the quality of biofuels from a large number of ingredients contained in raw materials. This product was developed in collaboration with global energy Company TotalEnergies, University of Pau et Pays de l’Adour (UPPA) in France, and University of Oviedo (UO) in Spain. The system can for example detect compounds in biofuel feedstocks that cause deterioration in production efficiency and quality. Users can easily screen for the presence of these compounds, quantify them, and validate or not the result of the removal process. This will contribute to the transition from fossil fuels to biofuels by establishing analytical methods for biofuels.

In recent years, research and development has progressed on new energy sources aimed at achieving carbon neutrality (net zero greenhouse gas emissions). Research and development on ‘second-generation biofuels’ using non-edible parts such as sugarcane peels, stalks, algae, and waste plastics, rather than ‘first-generation biofuels’ using edible parts such as sugarcane and corn, are particularly active. These bio-derived and recycled raw materials contain many unknown compounds that are different from fossil fuels. Therefore, it was difficult to detect only oxygen and nitrogen among many unknown compounds, even though oxygen and nitrogen lead to deterioration of biofuel production efficiency and deterioration of biofuel quality. Another challenge was the lack of an efficient evaluation and analysis method for bio-derived and recycled raw materials.

ELEM-SPOT consists of a gas chromatograph mass spectrometer (GC-MS) and a combustion catalyst reactor. After compounds contained in bio-derived raw materials and recycled raw materials are separated by GC, target compounds are on-line oxidised and decomposed in a combustion catalyst reactor, then the C, H, N and O present in each compound are selectively detected by MS. Users will use this critical information to detect and remove oxygen and nitrogen that adversely affect the catalysts used in the refining process, therefore preventing plant shutdown due to catalyst replacement. Biofuel quality and future specifications can also be monitored with this detector. With this product, the identification process of oxygenated compounds in biofuels can be reduced by more than 80%. The traditional method is ‘Examine and select hundreds of chromatogram peaks (the MS spectrum pattern indicating the presence of a compound) one at a time’.

Since 2021, Shimadzu, TotalEnergies, UPPA, and UO have been conducting comprehensive joint research in the field of clean energy. This product was made possible by the breakthrough technology of TotalEnergies, UPPA, and UO, ‘the compounds separated by a gas chromatograph are decomposed to the elemental level, and the oxidation catalytic reaction is promoted to be detected using a MS’, and Shimadzu's high-performance GC-MS technology. Shimadzu will continue to work to improve the usability of this product.

World's first selective detection of only oxygen- and nitrogen-containing compounds

The oxygen- and nitrogen-containing compounds contained in bio-derived raw materials adversely affect the catalysts used in the refining process. Therefore, the demand to detect them is increasing. However, it was difficult to distinguish oxygen- and nitrogen-containing compounds from all compounds of bio-derived raw materials. This product uses isotopic oxygen to oxidise and decompose the compounds eluting from the GC column, and then uses a data analysis tool dedicated to this product to accurately identify oxygenated compounds. Correct monitoring and processing of oxygen- and nitrogen-containing compounds reduces catalyst quality degradation and eliminates the need for frequent catalyst replacement. It is the first product in the world that can detect and quantify oxygen- and nitrogen-containing compounds.

Support cutting-edge R&D

In new energy-related fields such as biofuels, highly sensitive methods for detecting trace compounds are required. This product can detect and quantify, without the need of specific standards, oxygen- and nitrogen-containing compounds with the highest sensitivity in the industry. By using this product, it is possible to analyse trace amounts of oxygen and nitrogen compounds contained in raw materials derived from woody biomass, algae, and waste plastics.

Inherited the high basic performance of our products

This product inherits the high basic performance and excellent usability of our flagship GC-MS ‘GCMS-QP2020 NX’. This product can be used not only for the specific detection of oxygen- and nitrogen-containing compounds using a combustion catalyst reactor, but also for general GCMS analysis. These modes can be easily and quickly set from ‘LabSolutions GCMS’ software. This product utilises high-performance GC-MS technology that Shimadzu has cultivated over many years.

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Lab Asia 31.2 April 2024

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