Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and aldehydes are frequently emitted from automotive components. Some emissions are highly toxic (including the carcinogens benzene and formaldehyde), whereas others have nuisance value. Recognizing the public health issues, regulatory bodies and industry increasingly seek to reduce exposure to these emissions. Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), for example, impose emission standards on raw material and component suppliers to prevent inclusion of sub-standard products in finished vehicles.
Historically, however, no technology has been able to provide simple, rapid, and comprehensive analysis for the diverse volatile emissions. Two traditional laboratory-based analytical techniques (gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC)) are widely used to cover most compounds, but the analysis is very expensive and sample turnaround is slow.
Selected ion flow tube mass spectrometry (SIFT-MS) addresses the shortcomings of these traditional analytical techniques with a unique combination of benefits that enable it to rapidly quantify diverse volatile emissions with very high selectivity over wide linear and dynamic ranges. Figure 1 shows the results of SIFT-MS analysis of five synthetic cabin components for a diverse variety of VOCs and aldehydes (reported in micrograms detected per gram of component). Each sample was analyzed in less than one minute.
The comprehensive analysis provided by SIFT-MS – coupled with its high throughput and very low cost of ownership – provides an ideal tool for certifying conformance of every batch of product across diverse compound classes, including aldehydes, phthalates, aromatics, chlorinated organics, and organotin compounds. SIFT-MS eliminates expensive sampling consumables, minimizes sample preparation prior to analysis, and facilitates rapid feedback on product quality. Both the supplier and the OEM benefit, since batches with higher emissions, can be identified before shipping, eliminating costly rejections by the OEM. Implementation of wide-scale product screening also enables the supplier to identify product issues earlier, optimizing production processes and reducing product losses or re-work.