During the 2020 Multidimensional Chromatography Workshop conference in Honolulu, Hawaii, Dr. Court Sandau of Chemistry Matters Inc. presented on the use of two dimensional gas chromatography in environmental forensics investigations.
Condensate is a complex mixture of light petroleum hydrocarbons that is primarily used to dilute heavy crude oil for transport through pipelines. Many heavy oils, especially bitumen from the oil sands in northern Alberta, use condensate to dilute the bitumen to allow the product to flow to refineries where the oil can be upgraded. This is where the term ‘Dilbit’ was derived. Condensate is valuable; it can be recycled and reused and is frequently transported through the North American pipeline network. Pipelines gather at pipeline terminals where there can be multiple sources and multiple suppliers of different types of condensates. When leaks occur at these terminals, it can be difficult to determine the exact source of the leak, especially if pipeline integrity seems intact. GCxGC-TOFMS is the ideal technique to examine mixed condensate plumes as it allows the comprehensive fingerprint of the condensate to be determined and simultaneously provides substantial data to evaluate weathering and plume movement. In addition, the amount of chemicals measured using GCxGC-TOFMS can allow source apportionment of multiple sources so that allocation of the cleanup responsibility can be made. This presentation, by Dr. Court Sandau and Dr. Lisa Kates discussed the use of GCxGC-TOFMS in legal case studies involving mixed condensate plumes. Real scenarios of condensate plumes were presented showing how GCxGC-TOFMS data clarified the results compared to conventional analysis. This presentation also covered the hurdles of using a novel and unconventional technique for litigation proceedings.
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