Author(s): Martin Schweigkofler, Reinhard Niessner
Biogases such as landfill gas and sewage gas undergo a combustion process which is generating electric energy. Since several trace compounds such as siloxanes (also halogenated and sulfur compounds) are known to cause severe problems to these gas combustion engines, they are of particular interest. In this work, a new technique for sampling, identification, and quantification of siloxanes and volatile organic carbon (VOC) in landfill gas and sewage gas is presented. After sample collection using evacuated stainless steel canisters biogas was analyzed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry/atomic emission spectroscopy (GC-MS/AES). Using gas canisters, the sampling process was simplified (no vacuum pump needed), and multiple analysis was possible. The simultaneous application of MSD and AED allowed a rapid screening of silicon compounds in the complex biogases. Individual substances were identified independently both by MSD analysis and by determination of their elemental constitution. Quantification of trace compounds was achieved using a 30 component external standard containing siloxanes, organochlorine and organosulfur compounds, alkanes, terpenes, and aromatic compounds. Precision, linearity, and detection limits have been studied. In real samples, concentrations of silicon containing compounds (trimethylsilanol, hexamethyldisiloxane, octamethyltrisiloxane, decamethyltetrasiloxane, hexamethylcyclotrisiloxane, octamethylcyclotetrasiloxane, decamethylcyclopentasiloxane, and dodecamethylcyclohexasiloxane) in the mg/m3 range have been observed.