Ultra-fast Gas Chromatography Analysis of Total Petroleum Hydrocarbon Contamination in Soil and Sediment Using Unique Direct Column Heating

New Organic Monitoring Techniques
Oral Presentation

Prepared by J. McCurry
Agilent Technologies, 2850 Centerville Road, Wilmington, DE, 19808, United States

Contact Information: james_mccurry@agilent.com; 302-636-1684


Gas chromatography is the preferred technique for the quantitative analysis of total petroleum hydrocarbon (TPH) contamination in water, soil, and sediments. One widely used method is ISO 16703, which is designed to measure saturated, cyclic, and aromatic hydrocarbons eluting between n-decane and tetracontane on a non-polar capillary column.[1] The chromatographic analysis of the hydrocarbons does not require speciation of individual compounds or classes of compounds. Rather, the peaks are eluted from the column as an unresolved hump. This aspect makes the analysis especially suitable for ultra-fast gas chromatography (UFGC), where short columns are directly heated for fast oven temperature programming. UFGC is particularly attractive to contract laboratories trying to maximize sample throughput and minimize turn-around time. This paper presents ultra-fast TPH gas chromatography method using a unique direct column heating technology. Analysis times of only three minutes were achieved while meeting the performance criteria outlined by the ISO 16703 method. In addition to short analysis times, this UFGC method provided highly accurate and precise results. This was demonstrated by preparing and analyzing certified reference soil and river sediment samples containing two different levels of TPH contamination.
1. Soil Quality-Determination of content of hydrocarbon in the range C10 to C40 by gas chromatography. ISO 16703:2004(E). Geneva, Switzerland: ISO