Ulrike Dusek 1, Max M. Cosijn1, Haiyan Ni1,2, Ru-Jin Huang2, Harro A. J. Meijer1, Steven van Heuven1

Centre for Isotope Research (CIO), Energy and Sustainability Research Institute Groningen (ESRIG), University of Groningen, Groningen, 9747 AG, The Netherlands
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

Received: June 4, 2019
Revised: October 11, 2019
Accepted: October 11, 2019
Download Citation: ||https://doi.org/10.4209/aaqr.2019.06.0287  

Cite this article:
Dusek, U., Cosijn, M.M., Ni, H., Huang, R.J., Meijer, H.A.J. and van Heuven, S. (2019). Technical Note: An Automated System for Separate Combustion of Elemental and Organic Carbon for 14C Analysis of Carbonaceous Aerosol. Aerosol Air Qual. Res. 19: 2604-2611. https://doi.org/10.4209/aaqr.2019.06.0287


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


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.

Don't forget to share this article 


Subscribe to our Newsletter 

Aerosol and Air Quality Research has published over 2,000 peer-reviewed articles. Enter your email address to receive latest updates and research articles to your inbox every second week.

Latest coronavirus research from Aerosol and Air Quality Research

2018 Impact Factor: 2.735

5-Year Impact Factor: 2.827

SCImago Journal & Country Rank