Automated measurement of nitrogen trifluoride in ambient air

Arnold, T, Muhle J, Salameh PK, Harth CM, Ivy DJ, Weiss RF.  2012.  Automated measurement of nitrogen trifluoride in ambient air. Analytical Chemistry. 84:4798-4804.

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emissions, Perfluorocarbons


We present an analytical method for the in situ measurement of atmospheric nitrogen trifluoride (NF3), an anthropogenic gas with a 100-year global warming potential of over 16 000. This potent greenhouse gas has a rising atmospheric abundance due to its emission from a growing number of manufacturing processes and an expanding end-use market. Here we present a modified version of the "Medusa" preconcentration gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) system of Miller, B. R.; Weiss, R. F.; Salameh, P. K.; Tanhua, T.; Greally, B. R; Male, J.; Simmonds, P. G. Anal. Chem. 2008, 80 (5), 1536-1545. By altering the techniques of gas separation and chromatography after initial preconcentration, we are now able to make atmospheric measurements of NF3 with relative precision <2% (1 sigma) for current background clean air samples. Importantly, this method augments the currently operational Medusa system, so that the quality of data for species already being measured is not compromised and NF3 is measured from the same preconcentrated sample. We present the first in situ measurements of NF3 from La Jolla, California made 11 times daily, illustrating how global deployment of this technique within the AGAGE (Advanced Global Atmospheric Gases Experiment) network could facilitate estimation of global and regional NF3 emissions over the coming years.