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2 GC/MS for Combustion and Pyrolysis Research

Part 2. Combustion Diagnostics and Pollutants

  1. James Cizdziel1,
  2. Wei-Yin Chen2

Published Online: 15 JUL 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9783527628148.hoc022

Handbook of Combustion

Handbook of Combustion

How to Cite

Cizdziel, J. and Chen, W.-Y. 2010. GC/MS for Combustion and Pyrolysis Research. Handbook of Combustion. 2:2:51–74.

Author Information

  1. 1

    University of Mississippi, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University, MS, USA

  2. 2

    University of Mississippi, Department of Chemical Engineering, University, MS, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 JUL 2010


The ability to determine combustion and thermal decomposition (pyrolysis) products at trace concentrations can lead to important information on catalytic pathways, the degradation process itself, and structural (fingerprint) information on the parent molecule(s), among others. Gas chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry (GC/MS) is well suited to separate and identify the volatile molecules and molecular fragments generated by combustion and pyrolysis processes. Whereas, pyrolysis (conducted in an inert atmosphere) is often used as a sample introduction device directly coupled to GC/MS, combustion is generally carried out offline and its products are collected and analyzed with GC/MS, or even pyrolysis-GC/MS. In the past few years, this powerful technique has been used to examine a variety of sample types for quite diverse applications. This chapter describes the state of the art and the progress of GC/MS for the measurement of combustion and pyrolysis products. An introduction to the technique, including the principles of GC/MS, is first provided, followed by a demonstration of the instrument's capabilities for combustion and pyrolysis research. All reports discussed herein were selected in part to demonstrate the diversity of current combustion and pyrolysis research using GC/MS. The present authors' studies with temperature-programmed desorption in conjunction with GC/MS to characterize oxygen shuttling on the chars derived from different gaseous environment, are highlighted. Finally, the use of GC/MS in combination with isotope-labeling techniques to reveal complex reaction pathways and mechanisms is discussed.


  • Gas chromatography;
  • mass spectrometry;
  • combustion;
  • pyrolysis;
  • temperature-programmed desorption