Inventors: Ananya Sen Gupta, Christopher M. Reddy, and Robert Nelson
Publication No. US8838393 B2
Overview: Contamination monitoring is used for assessing petroleum spills and sourcing, ground water pollution, toxic spills, and other contamination events. Routine analytical methods employed, generally measure a defined list of compounds and are not usually designed to provide distinct features or “fingerprints” of a sample and interrelate these samples to their potential sources. Up until now, complete separation and visualization of complex contaminant mixtures required multi-stage physical separation and tedious techniques that often lead to doubtful quantification and loss of minor compounds.
Technology: This technology advances contaminant monitoring by using multidimensional gas chromatography (GC x GC) with mass spectroscopy coupled with a software package to provide a high resolution contaminant fingerprint analysis of complex mixtures of synthetic organic chemicals, natural products, and/or petroleum hydrocarbons. Each compound detected within a sample contributes to the fingerprint analysis. A novel feature topography map shows the collective network of peaks based on the peak distribution of well-known major compounds as well as less-explored minor compounds. Additional fingerprint algorithms are applied to identify potential sources of a particular compound. The technology can be used before and after a specific contamination clean-up process to evaluate treatment as well as continue routine monitoring.