This introduction assumes the reader has skills and experiences in GC and GC/MS analysis or, having no or limited experiences in pyrolysis-GC (Py-GC), is willing to learn and use it in the future.
Pyrolysis-GC/MS is a useful tool for analysis of polymeric materials including plastics, resins, rubbers, paints, dyes, fibers, wood composites, and so forth. Trace amounts of liquids as well as solvent insoluble samples can be analyzed without any pretreatment, and unique information otherwise unobtainable by other techniques such as GC, HPLC, IR, and NMR can be obtained.
1.1 Information obtained by analytical pyrolysis
When thermal energy is applied to polymeric materials, a variety of information can be obtained from their physical changes. Among them, the analysis of gases released from the sample is a technique called “Analytical pyrolysis”.
There are two analytical methods available in which a pyrolyzer is used, (1) Analysis of gases released from a sample as the furnace temperature is increased, (2) Analysis of gases formed in flash pyrolysis of a sample at high temperatures. These methods afford information listed below.
Thermal stability of polymer (by programmed heating)
- Composition, microstructure, decomposition mechanism of polymer (by flash pyrolysis)
- Spectral data for polymer identification (by programmed heating, flash pyrolysis)
- Spectral data for qualitative/quantitative analysis of additives in a polymer (by programmed heating)
1.2 Application areas of analytical pyrolysis
Analytical pyrolysis (Py-GC, Py-GC/MS) can be applied to wider areas of analytical targets than other analytical techniques, including gases, liquids, solids, together with cross-linked polymeric materials (solvent-insoluble materials) as shown in Fig. 2a. This feature is vastly different from other analytical techniques such as LC/MS and GC/MS as shown in Fig. 2b.