Q&A: Pyrolysis GC/MS with Dr. Dustin Jenkins

Q&A: Pyrolysis GC/MS with Dr. Dustin Jenkins

Smithers has invested in upgraded, state-of-the-art pyrolysis GC/MS instrumentation at its rubber testing laboratory in Akron, Ohio. Laboratory supervisor Dr. Dustin Jenkins shares his insight into the value of pyrolysis techniques in this Q&A. 

What is pyrolysis GC/MS (or PY-GC/MS)?

Pyrolysis GC/MS (gas chromatography mass spectrometry) is an analytical technique used to analyze rubber and plastic compounds and provide qualitative information about nearly all the organic components that comprise the compound, including identification of all volatile components and polymers.
With GC/MS, typically only the more volatile materials in a rubber or plastic compound can be analyzed. This includes the additives, plasticizers, anti-degradants, and curatives all of which are small molecules. The advantage of pyrolysis GC/MS is that it also breaks down non-volatile, large-molecules such as polymers for analysis to provide a complete profile of the original rubber or plastic material. 

What is pyrolysis GC/MS used for?

Pyrolysis techniques are extremely versatile and fast. We can use pyrolysis GC/MS to analyze basic composition of a product or material to help you understand a competitor’s product. We can use this technique to study material failure and find the root cause of performance issues at the molecular level, which can help you improve your product and avoid similar challenges in the future. We can also focus on locating, identifying, and analyzing specific components of a compound or material, including possible contaminants. 

What specific techniques can be conducted via pyrolysis GC/MS?

Thermal desorption, single shot pyrolysis, double shot pyrolysis, evolved gas analysis, and heart cutting analysis are the modes of analysis available to us with this upgraded pyrolysis GC/MS instrument. 

What makes pyrolysis GC/MS unique?

Pyrolysis GC/MS is not new technology, but it has the distinct advantage of being very fast. This instrument can deliver a comprehensive analysis of nearly every component of a whole sample very quickly, which means faster results and answers for our testing clients.
A specific advantage of conducting pyrolysis GC/MS analysis with Smithers is our long history of rubber and polymer testing. Our team has many years of experience conducting chemical analyses of polymeric materials and adjacent tests, and we offer a growing portfolio of analytical and testing services for rubber and plastics.

To learn more or discuss a pyrolysis project with Smithers, contact Jeremy Elliott at 330-762-7441 or jelliott@smithers.com.

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