Medusa:  A Sample Preconcentration and GC/MS Detector System for in Situ Measurements of Atmospheric Trace Halocarbons, Hydrocarbons, and Sulfur Compounds

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Analytical Chemistry, Volume 80, Issue 5, p.1536 - 1545 (2008)





Significant changes have occurred in the anthropogenic emissions of many compounds related to the Kyoto and Montreal Protocols within the past 20 years and many of their atmospheric abundances have responded dramatically. Additionally, there are a number of related natural compounds with underdetermined source or sink budgets. A new instrument, Medusa, was developed to make the high frequency in situ measurements required for the determination of the atmospheric lifetimes and emissions of these compounds. This automated system measures a wide range of halocarbons, hydrocarbons, and sulfur compounds involved in ozone depletion and/or climate forcing, from the very volatile perfluorocarbons (PFCs, e.g., CF4 and CF3CF3) and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs, e.g., CH3CF3) to the higher-boiling point solvents (such as CH3CCl3 and CCl2CCl2) and CHBr3. A network of Medusa systems worldwide provides 12 in situ ambient air measurements per day of more than 38 compounds of part per trillion mole fractions and precisions up to 0.1% RSD at the five remote field stations operated by the Advanced Global Atmospheric Gases Experiment (AGAGE). This custom system couples gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MSD) with a novel scheme for cryogen-free low-temperature preconcentration (?165 °C) of analytes from 2 L samples in a two-trap process using HayeSep D adsorbent.