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A Review of Synthetic Polymer Characterization by Pyrolysis-GC-MS

Rial-Otero, Raquel, Galesio, Marco, Capelo, José-Luis, Simal-Gándara, Jesús
Chromatographia 2009 v.70 no.3-4 pp. 339-348
additives, chromatography, guidelines, heat, mass spectrometry, polymers, pyrolysis, system optimization, temperature
Pyrolysis-GC with mass spectrometry detection (Py-GC-MSD) study of the thermal degradation products of synthetic polymers is reviewed. Due to the high heating speed, accurate temperature reproducibility and a wide temperature range, Py-GC-MSD has been applied successfully for polymer characterization. Introduction of samples using the pyrolysis carrier gas through the split injection port, followed by sub-ambient cryofocusing of the pyrolysis products, has shown to give reproducible chromatograms (pyrograms). One of the advantages of this method is that all compositions of the polymers and additives can be investigated without any pretreatment, providing important compositional and structural information in a simple way. The method is a convenient method for compositional analysis of complex polymer materials. The aim of this review is to describe the kinds of applications for which Py-GC-MSD has been found to be suitable; to present guidelines for method optimization; to survey innovations that have recently been developed or are currently being researched; to point to problems in our understanding of the pyrograms; and to suggest areas in which research efforts might be most effective in realizing the full potential of this technique.