Investigation of the composition of linear alkylbenzenes with emphasis on the identification and quantitation of some trace compounds using GS/MS system in both electron impact and chemical ionization modes
Zalewski, Teresa Maria.
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Linear alkylbenzenes, LAB, formed by the Alel3 or HF catalyzed alkylation of benzene are common raw materials for surfactant manufacture. Normally they are sulphonated using S03 or oleum to give the corresponding linear alkylbenzene sulphonates In >95 % yield. As concern has grown about the environmental impact of surfactants,' questions have been raised about the trace levels of unreacted raw materials, linear alkylbenzenes and minor impurities present in them. With the advent of modem analytical instruments and techniques, namely GCIMS, the opportunity has arisen to identify the exact nature of these impurities and to determine the actual levels of them present in the commercial linear ,alkylbenzenes. The object of the proposed study was to separate, identify and quantify major and minor components (1-10%) in commercial linear alkylbenzenes. The focus of this study was on the structure elucidation and determination of impurities and on the qualitative determination of them in all analyzed linear alkylbenzene samples. A gas chromatography/mass spectrometry, (GCIMS) study was performed o~ five samples from the same manufacturer (different production dates) and then it was followed by the analyses of ten commercial linear alkylbenzenes from four different suppliers. All the major components, namely linear alkylbenzene isomers, followed the same elution pattern with the 2-phenyl isomer eluting last. The individual isomers were identified by interpretation of their electron impact and chemical ionization mass spectra. The percent isomer distribution was found to be different from sample to sample. Average molecular weights were calculated using two methods, GC and GCIMS, and compared with the results reported on the Certificate of Analyses (C.O.A.) provided by the manufacturers of commercial linear alkylbenzenes. The GC results in most cases agreed with the reported values, whereas GC/MS results were significantly lower, between 0.41 and 3.29 amu. The minor components, impurities such as branched alkylbenzenes and dialkyltetralins eluted according to their molecular weights. Their fragmentation patterns were studied using electron impact ionization mode and their molecular weight ions confirmed by a 'soft ionization technique', chemical ionization. The level of impurities present i~ the analyzed commercial linear alkylbenzenes was expressed as the percent of the total sample weight, as well as, in mg/g. The percent of impurities was observed to vary between 4.5 % and 16.8 % with the highest being in sample "I". Quantitation (mg/g) of impurities such as branched alkylbenzenes and dialkyltetralins was done using cis/trans-l,4,6,7-tetramethyltetralin as an internal standard. Samples were analyzed using .GC/MS system operating under full scan and single ion monitoring data acquisition modes. The latter data acquisition mode, which offers higher sensitivity, was used to analyze all samples under investigation for presence of linear dialkyltetralins. Dialkyltetralins were reported quantitatively, whereas branched alkylbenzenes were reported semi-qualitatively. The GC/MS method that was developed during the course of this study allowed identification of some other trace impurities present in commercial LABs. Compounds such as non-linear dialkyltetralins, dialkylindanes, diphenylalkanes and alkylnaphthalenes were identified but their detailed structure elucidation and the quantitation was beyond the scope of this study. However, further investigation of these compounds will be the subject of a future study.