Standard Article

Mass Spectrometry in Process Analysis

Process Instrumental Methods

  1. José A. Olivares

Published Online: 15 SEP 2006

DOI: 10.1002/9780470027318.a2109

Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry

Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry

How to Cite

Olivares, J. A. 2006. Mass Spectrometry in Process Analysis. Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry. .

Author Information

  1. Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 SEP 2006


The mass spectrometer can provide a versatile, highly specific and sensitive tool for the analysis and control of industrial processes. More common techniques for industrial process control are gas chromatography and infrared spectroscopy. Ion mobility spectrometry and chemical sensors are slowly being introduced. Although mass spectrometry is relatively more complex and expensive to implement than these other techniques, the sensitivity and specificity offered is often unmatched. This article gives a general review of the roots of mass spectrometry as it applies to on-line process control. A short discussion of instrumentation commonly used in the practice of this technique has been added and limited only to the more popular and currently commercially available instruments. These include sector, quadrupole and time-of-flight mass spectrometers. The capabilities and specifications of the different classes of mass spectrometers are discussed and compared. Specific sampling methodology for the operation of these instruments in on-line processes is given. Also included is a discussion of common practices in the reduction of interferences and deconvolution of mass spectra from mixtures. In-depth examples of industrial process and control applications have been selected and are discussed in the areas of biotechnology, technical incineration, petrochemical, and semiconductor production.