Thermo Scientific Isotope Ratio Infrared Spectrometer Offers Field-Transportable, Robust CO2 Analysis

07 Apr 2014
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Scientists monitoring greenhouse gases, plant ecology, carbon sequestration and volcanic emissions, among other CO2 analysis applications, can now transport powerful isotope ratio analysis capability to the sources of samples. This can eliminate the bottleneck of transporting samples from the field to the lab for potential gains in insight, productivity and cost savings.

Thermo Fisher Scientific showcased the new Thermo Scientific Delta Ray isotope ratio infrared spectrometer during analytica 2014, held at Messe München in Munich April 1-4.

The Delta Ray system is a new category of analyzer for the continuous measurement of isotope ratio values from CO2 in ambient air. The ability to transport the system into the field can enable scientists to continuously collect data, 24 hours per day, seven days per week. Scientists can measure short duration phenomena that may have previously been missed due to the low-frequency sample acquisition. By comparison, a lab transporting samples from the field might only be able to collect one or two samples per week. In addition to more data, the field-deployable system can reduce or eliminate costs for vials, flasks and transportation.

“Isotope ratio infrared spectroscopy brings a paradigm shift to isotope ratio analysis,” said HJ Jost, product manager for the Delta Ray system at Thermo Fisher Scientific. “The potential to expand our current isotope analysis portfolio into field deployable systems, and the excitement of customers once they see the power of continuous measurement at the source, drove our desire to make this technology broadly available.”

“A step forward in the surveillance of volcanoes is now possible,” said Andrea Rizzo, researcher studying Mt. Etna for Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, (INGV), Sezione di Palermo, Italy. “Laser spectroscopy for stable isotope analysis in the field opens new and exciting perspectives for the scientific community, such as the opportunity to perform real-time measurements of elemental and isotope composition of CO2 in volcanic gases.”

INGV-Palermo performs geochemical monitoring of Mt. Etna to evaluate volcanic activity with the goal of predicting eruptions.

INGV-Palermo evaluated a prototype Delta Ray system in July and again in September 2013 at Mt. Etna, from sea level to just under 9,900 ft. up the mountain. CO2 isotope data was captured from the atmosphere, fumaroles and crater plume. The instrument stood up to the rigors of this harsh environment, and INGV-Palermo research group is now planning a long-term study in which the instrument will operate unattended on Mt. Etna for a number of months.

The Delta Ray analyzer uses laser-based mid-infrared spectroscopy to simultaneously measure carbon13 isotope and oxygen 18 isotope with a precision of better than 0.1 parts per thousand in minutes. The mid-infrared range produces absorption signals about 8,000 times stronger than the near-infrared for superior performance and reduced need to clean the mirrors. The system’s Universal Reference Interface is engineered to automate referencing and calibration for verifiable measurements and high-confidence results. The system is designed to measure large and small-scale changes in atmospheric CO2 at concentrations from 200 ppm to 100 percent (with optional dilution box) over a wide range of time scales.

In addition to transportability, the instrument is designed to be robust and simple to operate. Thermo Scientific Qtegra software is intended to enhance the usability, with a dashboard for system status, “Get Ready” button that prepares system for operation with one click, “LabBook” objects containing methods and results, and “Workflow” display to simplify navigation.

The entire system fits the cargo areas of most standard sport utility and other light vehicles, thanks to its small 588 x 424 mm footprint and 37 kg weight. An external computer is not needed.

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Sarah Thomas
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