Portable Mass Spectrometer

  • Author: ChemistryViews.org
  • Published: 16 December 2016
  • Copyright: Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim
  • Source / Publisher: Environmental Science & Technology/ACS Publications
  • Associated Societies: American Chemical Society (ACS), USA
thumbnail image: Portable Mass Spectrometer

The concentrations of gases such as CO2, O2, and CH4 in the atmosphere can provide information about chemical and biological processes in the vicinity. Existing monitoring systems are often limited to specific gases or cannot be used for real-time analysis.

Matthias S. Brennwald, Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, Dübendorf, Switzerland, and colleagues have developed a portable mass spectrometer which can be mounted in a suitcase and is capable of autonomous, real-time, on-site analysis of the partial pressures of He, Ne, Ar, Kr, N2, O2, CO2, and CH4. The system consists of a computer-controlled gas inlet valve, a quadrupole mass spectrometer, and several pumps.

The developed device is small, weighs 13 kg, and has a power consumption of only 50 W. In addition, it has a low gas consumption rate, which prevents interference with the environmental gas equilibria during continuous measurement, and it can achieve time resolutions of less than one minute. According to the researchers, this makes the system suitable for on-site analysis in field applications related to, e.g., soil-gas formation, lake/atmosphere gas exchange, and seafloor gas emanations.


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