Journal Highlight: Application of mass spectrometry in the characterization of chemicals in coal-derived liquids

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  • Published: Aug 8, 2017
  • Author: spectroscopyNOW
  • Channels: Base Peak
thumbnail image: Journal Highlight: Application of mass spectrometry in the characterization of chemicals in coal-derived liquids

The characterization of hydrocarbon, oxygen-containing, nitrogen-containing, sulfur-containing and halogen-containing chemicals in various coal-derived liquids by GC/MS, GCxGC-TOFMS and FTICR MS has been reviewed.

Application of mass spectrometry in the characterization of chemicals in coal-derived liquids

Mass Spectrometry Reviews, 2017, 36, 543-579
Fang-Jing Liu, Maohong Fan, Xian-Yong Wei and Zhi-Min Zong

Abstract: Coal-derived liquids (CDLs) are primarily generated from pyrolysis, carbonization, gasification, direct liquefaction, low-temperature extraction, thermal dissolution, and mild oxidation. CDLs are important feedstocks for producing value-added chemicals and clean liquid fuels as well as high performance carbon materials. Accordingly, the compositional characterization of chemicals in CDLs at the molecular level with advanced analytical techniques is significant for the efficient utilization of CDLs. Although reviews on advancements have been rarely reported, great progress has been achieved in this area by using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS), two-dimensional GC-time of flight mass spectrometry (GC × GC-TOFMS), and Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry (FT-ICR MS). This review focuses on characterizing hydrocarbon, oxygen-containing, nitrogen-containing, sulfur-containing, and halogen-containing chemicals in various CDLs with these three mass spectrometry techniques. Small molecular (< 500 u), volatile and semi-volatile, and less polar chemicals in CDLs have been identified with GC/MS and GC × GC-TOFMS. By equipped with two-dimensional GC, GC × GC-TOFMS can achieve a clearly chromatographic separation of complex chemicals in CDLs without prior fractionation, and thus can overcome the disadvantages of co-elution and serious peak overlap in GC/MS analysis, providing much more compositional information. With ultrahigh resolving power and mass accuracy, FT-ICR MS reveals a huge number of compositionally distinct compounds assigned to various chemical classes in CDLs. It shows excellent performance in resolving and characterizing higher-molecular, less volatile, and polar chemicals that cannot be detected by GC/MS and GC × GC-TOFMS. The application of GC × GC-TOFMS and FT-ICR MS to chemical characterization of CDLs is not as prevalent as that of petroleum and largely remains to be developed in many respects.

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