Marine Science Faculty Publications

Underwater Mass Spectrometers for in Situ Chemical Analysis of the Hydrosphere

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Autonomous Underwater Vehicle, Mass Spectrometry System, Diaphragm Pump, Quadrupole Mass Filter, Quadrupole System

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Underwater mass spectrometry systems can be used for direct in situ detection of volatile organic compounds and dissolved gases in oceans, lakes, rivers and waste-water streams. In this work we describe the design and operation of (1) a linear quadrupole mass filter and (2) a quadrupole ion trap mass spectrometer interfaced, in each case, with a membrane introduction/fluid control system and packaged for underwater operation. These mass spectrometry systems can operate autonomously, or under user control via a wireless rf link. Detection limits for each system were determined in the laboratory using pure solutions. The quadrupole mass filter system provides detection limits in the 1–5 ppb range with an upper mass limit of 100 amu. Its power requirement is approximately 95 Watts. The ion trap system has detection limits well below 1 ppb, an upper mass limit of 650 amu and MS/MS capability. Its power consumption is on the order of 150 Watts. The present membrane limits analysis to non-polar compounds (<300 amu) with analysis cycles of 5–15 minutes. Deployments of both types of instruments are described, along with a discussion of the challenges associated with in-water mass spectrometry and descriptions of alternative in-water mass spectrometer configurations.

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Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry, v. 12, p. 676-682