Pyrolysis Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry (Pyrolysis-GC-MS) is an analytical tool used to characterize a wide variety of polymers and composite materials that cannot be analyzed using traditional GC-MS. The fundamental concept of Pyrolysis-GC-MS is not complicated but highly sensitive. A sample is introduced to a heated environment and is broken down into smaller stable fragments/components (aka pyrolyzates) for analysis. The pyrolyzates are then chromatographically separated in the same manner as traditional GC-MS. Similar to traditional GC-MS, the fragments are separated utilizing a compound’s intrinsic affinity for a “stationary phase” (solid support with specialized coating). Once the pyrolyzates are separated, the data is analyzed by highly skilled scientists who can deconvolute and interpret the data and subsequently provide useful information and insight on the original material.
In order to conduct a thorough investigation, the Pyrolysis temperature program must be set up in a very specific way. When a sample is introduced into the Pyrolysis unit, it is instantly heated from ambient to the desired temperature in an inert atmosphere. This rapid heating provides reproducible results. If additional tests are needed, the test sample is cooled in an inert atmosphere to room temperature and the Pyrolysis unit is reprogrammed. Several different experiments can be performed and they are explained below.
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