In this work, a compact gas chromatograph prototype for near real-time benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylenes (BTEX) detection at sub-ppb levels has been developed. The system is composed of an aluminium preconcentrator (PC) filled with Basolite C300, a 20 m long Rxi-624 capillary column and a photoionization detector. The performance of the device has been evaluated in terms of adsorption capacity, linearity and sensitivity. Initially, PC breakthrough time for an equimolar 1 ppm BTEX mixture has been determined showing a remarkable capacity of the adsorbent to quantitatively trap BTEX even at high concentrations. Then, a highly linear relationship between sample volume and peak area has been obtained for all compounds by injecting 100-ppb samples with volumes ranging from 5⁻80 mL. Linear plots were also observed when calibration was conducted in the range 0⁻100 ppb using a 20 mL sampling volume implying a total analysis time of 19 min. Corresponding detection limits of 0.20, 0.26, 0.49, 0.80 and 1.70 ppb have been determined for benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, m/p-xylenes and o-xylene, respectively. These experimental results highlight the potential applications of our device to monitor indoor or outdoor air quality.
Keywords: BTEX; PID detector; microfluidics; miniaturized gas chromatograph; preconcentrator.