Analytical methods of levoglucosan, a tracer for cellulose in biomass burning, by four different techniques

Min Suk Bae, Ji Yi Lee, Yong Pyo Kim, Min Ho Oak, Ju Seon Shin, Kwang Yul Lee, Hyunhee Lee Lee, Sun Young Lee, Young Joon Kim

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17 Scopus citations


A comparison of analytical approaches for Levoglucosan (C6H10O5, commonly formed from the pyrolysis of carbohydrates such as cellulose) and used for a molecular marker in biomass burning is made between the four different analytical systems. 1) Spectrothermography technique as the evaluation of thermograms of carbon using Elemental Carbon & Organic Carbon Analyzer, 2) mass spectrometry technique using Gas Chromatography/mass spectrometer (GC/ MS), 3) Aerosol Mass Spectrometer (AMS) for the identification of the particle size distribution and chemical composition, and 4) two dimensional Gas Chromatography with Time of Flight mass spectrometry (GC×GC-TOFMS) for defining the signature of Levoglucosan in terms of chemical analytical process. First, a Spectrothermography, which is defined as the graphical representation of the carbon, can be measured as a function of temperature during the thermal separation process and spectrothermographic analysis. GC/MS can detect mass fragment ions of Levoglucosan characterized by its base peak at m/z 60, 73 in mass fragment-grams by methylation and m/z 217, 204 by trimethylsilylderivatives (TMS-derivatives). AMS can be used to analyze the base peak at m/z 60.021, 73.029 in mass fragment-grams with a multiple-peak Gaussian curve fit algorithm. In the analysis of TMS derivatives by GC×GC-TOFMS, it can detect m/z 73 as the base ion for the identification of Levoglucosan. It can also observe m/z 217 and 204 with existence of m/z 333. Although the ratios of m/z 217 and m/z 204 to the base ion (m/z 73) in the mass spectrum of GC×GC-TOFMS lower than those of GC/MS, Levoglucosan can be separated and characterized from D (-) +Ribose in the mixture of sugar compounds. At last, the environmental significance of Levoglucosan will be discussed with respect to the health effect to offer important opportunities for clinical and potential epidemiological research for reducing incidence of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-66
Number of pages14
JournalAsian Journal of Atmospheric Environment
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2012


  • AMS
  • ECOC
  • GC/MS
  • Levoglucosan
  • Organic molecular marker


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