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Technical Note: An Automated System for Separate Combustion of Elemental and Organic Carbon for 14C Analysis of Carbonaceous Aerosol

Category: Technical Note

Volume: 19 | Issue: 11 | Pages: 2604-2611
DOI: 10.4209/aaqr.2019.06.0287
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Ulrike Dusek 1, Max M. Cosijn1, Haiyan Ni1,2, Ru-Jin Huang2, Harro A. J. Meijer1, Steven van Heuven1

  • 1 Centre for Isotope Research (CIO), Energy and Sustainability Research Institute Groningen (ESRIG), University of Groningen, Groningen, 9747 AG, The Netherlands
  • 2 State Key Laboratory of Loess and Quaternary Geology, Key Laboratory of Aerosol Chemistry and Physics, Center for Excellence in Quaternary Science and Global Change, Institute of Earth Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xi’an 710061, China

Highlights

  • A fully automated aerosol pretreatment system for radiocarbon analysis.
  • The resulting CO2 is successfully quantified, purified.
  • Contamination during handling and combustion < 1 µg.

Abstract

We present the design and evaluation of an automated system for the conversion of elemental and organic carbon aerosol to CO2 for subsequent radiocarbon analysis. The system allows heating the sample in pure oxygen or helium at user defined temperature steps, followed by catalytic conversion of incomplete carbonaceous combustion products to CO2. The resulting CO2 is quantified using an NDIR detector and can be separated from other combustion by-products in a reduction oven. The purified CO2 is cryogenically collected in glass ampoules that can be sealed for storage until 14C analysis. We show that (1) the CO2 amount measured by the calibrated NDIR sensor compares well to an independent manometric method, (2) that we successfully remove combustion by-products such as SO2, H2O, and NOx, resulting in pure CO2 samples, and (3) that the system has low contamination and negligible cross contamination making it ideal for the analysis of very small samples in the order of 10 – 50 µgC.

Keywords

Carbonaceous aerosol Radiocarbon Automated pre-treatment system Organic and elemental carbon separation


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