Crude oil samples are very complex mixtures of compounds and only Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry (FT-ICR MS) provides the ultra-high mass resolution necessary to resolve them. However, FT-ICR MS operates best when only a small amount of ions is present during each transient. This cannot be accomplished with crude oil samples without chromatography because more than 50 000 compounds can be present, with the result that species with low intensity may be suppressed and are detected either with low intensity or not at all.
Spectral stitching was used to overcome the problems associated with suppression effects, where only short mass windows of 30 amu were scanned to reduce the amount of ions present in each individual scan. Afterwards, all the scans were co-added and the subsequent spectrum was used to calculate individual class distributions.
A heavy crude oil sample was analyzed using spectral stitching and this approach was compared with analysis using a broadband-method in order to illustrate the enhancement in depth of information. Although both methods took the same analysis time a seven-times increase in the number of detected species was observed when the spectral stitching method was used compared with the commonly applied broadband method in a 900 amu mass window.
Spectral stitching using smaller selected ion monitoring (SIM) windows for complex crude oil samples allows better class distribution to be obtained because less ion suppression is observed. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.