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SepSolve hosts seminar highlighting recent advances in the field of GC×GC

By Laura McGregor (Product Marketing Manager, SepSolve Analytical Ltd)

30 May 2019

In April we hosted a one-day seminar, titled As Easy as GC×GC, at our facility in Offenbach, Germany. Over 30 delegates from all over Europe came to hear a number of distinguished speakers discuss their work in the field of GC×GC, in which a variety of interesting application areas were covered, such as food and beverage aroma, mineral oil saturated/aromatic hydrocarbons (MOSH/MOAH) and petrochemical fingerprinting. To start the day, SepSolve’s Anthony Buchanan went through the fundamentals of GC×GC, covering advances such as the latest developments in flow modulation.

Insights on the extraordinary complexity of food

The next speaker was Chiara Cordero from Turin University, Italy, who gave a thought-provoking presentation on the study of complex food volatiles – or “volatilome”.

She demonstrated how GC×GC adds additional insight over and above the data produced by conventional GC–MS analyses. When coupled to a time-of-flight (TOF) mass spectrometer (BenchTOF-Select) with Tandem Ionisation (simultaneous hard- and soft-ionisation) she explained that even further layers of information emerge, especially for isomeric compounds.

Prof. Cordero went on to illustrate how the hard and soft ionisation data streams can be processed as independent or summed signals in order to provide unparalleled insight into the complex cocoa volatilome.

GC×GC for petrochemical fingerprinting

Maximilian Jennerwein, from ASG Analytik-Service Gesellschaft MbH, Germany, gave a presentation on petrochemical fingerprinting – “Fuel analysis by GC×GC: Separation, detection and data evaluation aspects”.

Max explained that whilst GC×GC is an established technique in the petrochemical industry, it is nevertheless still evolving, and an example he cited was the use of flow-modulated methodology for routine analyses.

The takeaway message from Max’s lecture was that ‘one size doesn’t fit all’ and it’s important to have flexibility in GC×GC hardware and software to cover a range of detectors. To exemplify this, Max showed data generated using FID, TOF MS and VUV.

The complex world of food chemistry

David Mannion, from Teagasc Food Research Centre, Ireland, gave an engaging talk full of examples of recent food and drink applications produced by the team at Teagasc – everything from milk and whiskey to beef and fruit volatiles.  Interestingly, David showed how GC×GC was able to resolve complex milk volatiles to show differences attributed to changes in bovine diet.

David discussed where his research is taking him. He believes that GC×GC will provide greater insight into the results from sensory tests (such as GC-Olfactometry) to uncover exactly what compounds are responsible for noted aroma traits.  

Characterization of uncommon MOSH/MOAH fractions

Joeri Vercammen, from Interscience BV, Netherlands, educated the delegates with his talk on the characterization of uncommon MOSH/MOAH fractions using GC×GC-TOF MS.

In this Joeri gave an overview of how GC×GC is used for improved characterisation of compounds which contaminate foodstuffs. Such compounds are mineral oil hydrocarbons in the food supply chain from product packaging, machinery lubricants and print ink.

Joeri explained that previous approaches to the analysis of MOSH/MOAH are both tedious and time-consuming, making them unsuitable for routine adoption. He described how the chemists at Interscience have developed a fully automated system to provide both on-line LC-GC for routine screening, and GC×GC-TOF MS for advanced characterisation, on a single platform. 

Pushing the boundaries of hyphenation

For the final presentation of the day, I discussed how our own work at SepSolve has been pushing the boundaries of multi-hyphenation by using GC×GC-TOF MS/FID/SCD for aroma profiling

I described how complementary information on sample composition is provided by parallel detection using flame ionisation detection (FID), sulfur chemiluminescence detection (SCD) and time-of-flight mass spectrometry (TOF MS). I finished by giving an example of how off-odours in hops and beer, caused by sulfur compounds, can be targeted using the highly-specific SCD and identified by TOF MS.

GC×GC provides new levels of information

The common theme, which was evident from all of the presentations, is that GC×GC provides new levels of information on sample composition with the result that, as an analytical technique, GC×GC is being routinely adopted for a range of applications across multiple industry sectors.

All the presenters have kindly made their presentations available.

Dr Laura McGregor

Dr Laura McGregor has a background is in analytical forensic science, and her Ph.D. (at the University of Strathclyde, UK) focused on the chemical fingerprinting of environmental contamination using GC×GC−TOF MS. Following roles in application support and product marketing for Markes International’s TOF MS and software portfolios, she joined SepSolve in October 2017, where she oversees marketing activities across the full product range.

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