Masters Thesis

Optimizing the Extraction of Biomarkers from Bitumen

Over the years, the techniques used for the extraction of target compounds out of complex chemical matrices have been continuously improving due to rapidly evolving technologies. This thesis explores several sample preparation techniques. We evaluated solid phase extraction (SPE), solid phase microextraction (SPME), and headspace techniques by comparing them to the current silica gel column chromatography method for extracting two biomarker groups, terpanes and steranes, from bitumen (petroleum tar). We then ranked the methods according to their extraction/column chromatography capability and environmental impact. the extraction/column chromatography capability was evaluated using a gas chromatograph equipped with a single quadrupole mass spectrometer and assessed based on validation parameters. the method safety and the environmental impact were evaluated following the twelve principles of green chemistry. the headspace technique failed to concentrate the target compounds from bitumen during the developmental stage and thus was not included in the validation. the SPME method demonstrated superior selectivity, required the least cleanup and equipment maintenance, had the lowest impact on the environment, and offered an enhanced capability for air sampling. the SPE method was the simplest, quickest, and least expensive. It also yielded the most precise measurements.


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