Rapid total volatile organic carbon quantification from microbial fermentation using a platinum catalyst and proton transfer reaction-mass spectrometry.


Heidi R. Schoen, Brent M. Peyton, W. Berk Knighton


AMB Express


A novel analytical system was developed to rapidly and accurately quantify total volatile organic compound (VOC) production from microbial reactor systems using a platinum catalyst and a sensitive CO2 detector. This system allows nearly instantaneous determination of total VOC production by utilizing a platinum catalyst to completely and quantitatively oxidize headspace VOCs to CO2 in coordination with a CO2 detector. Measurement of respiratory CO2 by bypassing the catalyst allowed the total VOC content to be determined from the difference in the two signals. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first instance of a platinum catalyst and CO2 detector being used to quantify the total VOCs produced by a complex bioreactor system. Continuous recording of these CO2 data provided a record of respiration and total VOC production throughout the experiments. Proton transfer reaction-mass spectrometry (PTR-MS) was used to identify and quantify major VOCs. The sum of the individual compounds measured by PTR-MS can be compared to the total VOCs quantified by the platinum catalyst to identify potential differences in detection, identification and calibration. PTR-MS measurements accounted on average for 94 % of the total VOC carbon detected by the platinum catalyst and CO2 detector. In a model system, a VOC producing endophytic fungus Nodulisporium isolate TI-13 was grown in a solid state reactor utilizing the agricultural byproduct beet pulp as a substrate. Temporal changes in production of major volatile compounds (ethanol, methanol, acetaldehyde, terpenes, and terpenoids) were quantified by PTR-MS and compared to the total VOC measurements taken with the platinum catalyst and CO2 detector. This analytical system provided fast, consistent data for evaluating VOC production in the nonhomogeneous solid state reactor system.



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