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Elemental and spectroscopic characterization of fractions of an acidic extract of oil sands process water

Jones, D., Scarlett, A.G., West, C.E., Frank, R.A., Gieleciak, R., Hager, D., Pureveen, J., Tegelaar, E., Rowland, S.J.
Chemosphere 2013 v.93 pp. 1655-1664
Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, aromatic acids, carboxylic acids, chemiluminescence, electrospray ionization mass spectrometry, esters, fractionation, gas chromatography, hexane, ions, naphthenates, nitrogen, oil sands, petroleum, silver, solid phase extraction, sulfur, ultraviolet-visible spectroscopy
‘Naphthenic acids’ (NAs) in petroleum produced water and oil sands process water (OSPW), have been implicated in toxicological effects. However, many are not well characterized. A method for fractionation of NAs of an OSPW was used herein and a multi-method characterization of the fractions conducted.The unfractionated OSPW acidic extract was characterized by elemental analysis, electrospray ionization-Orbitrap-mass spectrometry (ESI-MS), and an esterified extract by Fourier Transform infrared (FTIR) and ultraviolet–visible (UV) absorption spectroscopy and by comprehensive multidimensional gas chromatography–MS (GCxGC–MS). Methyl esters were fractionated by argentation solid phase extraction (Ag+ SPE) and fractions eluting with: hexane; diethyl ether: hexane and diethyl ether, examined. Each was weighed, examined by elemental analysis, FTIR, UV, GC–MS and GCxGC–MS (both nominal and high resolution MS). The ether fraction, containing sulfur, was also examined by GCxGC–sulfur chemiluminescence detection (GCxGC–SCD).The major ions detected by ESI-MS in the OSPW extract were assigned to alicyclic and aromatic ‘O2’ acids; sulfur was also present. Components recovered by Ag+ SPE were also methyl esters of alicyclic and aromatic acids; these contained little sulfur or nitrogen. FTIR spectra showed that hydroxy acids and sulfoxides were absent or minor. UV spectra, along with the C/H ratio, further confirmed the aromaticity of the hexane:ether eluate.The more minor ether eluate contained further aromatics and 1.5% sulfur. FTIR spectra indicated free carboxylic acids, in addition to esters. Four major sulfur compounds were detected by GCxGC–SCD. GCxGC–high resolution MS indicated these were methyl esters of C18 S-containing, diaromatics with ⩾C3 carboxylic acid side chains.