GC-IMS highlights Imspex as Benchmark Technology in VOC Gas

Our ground-breaking technology has been highlighted by the ISO committee as the benchmark in VOC Gas technology.

What is GC-IMS Technology?

The pioneering technology is made up of Gas Chromatography (GC) with Ion Mobility Spectrometry (IMS) which combines high selectivity and ultrahigh sensitivity. Chemistry results are analysed by integrated software to identify digital compound signatures and to link these to a given target indication. Detection of diseases, flavours, compounds or VOCs using this method produces fast, robust and accurate results, making it suitable for use in quality testing laboratories or a healthcare environment.

Lawrence V. Haley and Julian M. Romeskie identified GC-IMS as flexible for use in a range of chemical detections in their paper via Spie Digital Library: “Fast GC (gas chromatography) – IMS (ion mobility spectrometry) as a core technology is sufficiently flexible with respect to a broad range of chemical detection capabilities. The application of this dual technology can provide unique solutions in many operational environments. GC-IMS is the next evolutionary step in the advancement of IMS technology.”

What are VOC Gases?

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) gases include a large range of natural and man-made substances. They are essentially chemical compounds made up of multiple elements where one of the elements is carbon. They can evaporate extremely easily into the atmosphere which is why they are described as ‘volatile.’ Most VOCs can be found in everyday household items such as paint or distinctive smells that you might recognise like fuel, however more natural VOCs can be produced naturally by things like houseplants which are harmless. VOC gases can be found in food and drink as well as the human breath which is where the analysis can be found most useful to determine the quality of something that you eat or even diagnose a disease.

Why ISO has determined the technology as a benchmark

Until fairly recently, sufficiently sensitive technology with the ability to analyse in depth coupled with the computing analysis has not been available. Imspex’s GC-IMS technology brings the ability to detect, quantify and extract patterns from extremely low compounds of VOCs and highlight biomarkers for the presence of alien ingredients or a disease or condition.

The new work item proposal and draft ISO text has recently been submitted to ISO/TC193/SC1/WG25 entitled ‘Biomethane’.

What are the key benefits of the GC-IMS instrument from Imspex?

  • Depending on the requirements for analysis, the columns include standard capillary (15-60m) or multi-capillary of various stationary phases.
  • Integration of temperature and flow controller. This allows for better separation of highly volatile compounds and a shorter run time.
  • Positive and negative ionisation modes suitable for detecting diverse substances like ketones, aldehydes, alcohols, amines, phosphor organics and chlorinated or hydrogenated compounds.
  • Integration of a 6-port valve allowing flexible sampling of gases.
  • 3D visualisation and analysis software is available called Laboratory Analytical Viewer (LAV). This software quantifies single marker compounds, whilst additional software plug-ins detect new compounds or concentration differences between existing compounds.
  • The standard configuration requires N2 or synthetic gas for its operation. An alternative is to equip it with a circular gas flow unit (CGFU) that allows it to be independent from any external gas supply.

Some projects where GC-IMS has been used include:

  • Measuring wastewater for siloxanes
  • Identifying the source of odours or industrial odour management
  • Aerosol propellant gas testing
  • Sulphur detection from landfill, refineries or gas wells

The technology also has huge benefits for the healthcare industry which you can read more about over on our medical site. To find out more about GC-IMS, take a look here.