Instrumental analytical chemistry

Chemical warfare agents, precursors, degradation products and biotransformation products


The traditional work-horse for the analysis of chemical warfare agents, their precursors an degradation products is gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry (GC-MS). In addition to GC-MS(EI) that allows comparison with databases such as the OPCW Central Analytical Database and the NIST library, chemical ionization – GC-MS(CI) – is often used to obtain molecular weight information based on the molecular ion. The use of GC-MS(EI) and GC-MS(CI) is sufficient for compound identification and confirmation in OPCW (environmental) Proficiency Tests and still the most used combination of analytical techniques.

In addition to the standard single quadrupole instruments (ion traps and sector field instruments have been mostly replaced) tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) and multidimensional GC (GCxGC) find applications as well. GC-MS/MS also find important application in the analysis of biotransformation products from biomedical samples.

  • We are assisting our clients with the selection and procurement of a suitable GC-MS instrument park focusing on issues like ease of use, future proofing, price/performance ratio, availability of a qualified on-site service and applicability of internationally accepted methods and techniques.
  • We help with GC-MS method development and validation as well as the establishment and in-house validation of internationally accepted standard methods.

GC with element specific detectors

Element specific detectors, such as NPD or FID, provide powerful means for screening of samples. A particularly useful detector is an atomic emission detector (AED) coupled to a GC. Detection of compounds containing elements usually encountered in CW agents (P, S, As, Cl, F) can be easily achieved with very high sensitivity and excellent selectivities.

  • We are assisting our clients with the selection and procurement of suitable detector-GC combinations (also integrated with GC-MS instruments)
  • We provide assistance in the development and validation of screening strategies.