Characterization of coal by matrix‐assisted laser desorption mass spectrometry. II. Pyrolysis tars and liquefaction extracts from the argonne coal samples

Alan A. Herod*, Chun‐Zhu Li, Bin Xu, John E. Parker, Chris A. F. Johnson, Phillip John, Gerry P. Smith, Paul Humphrey, John R. Chapman, Rafael Kandiyoti, D. E. Games

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


Coal pyrolysis tars and liquefaction extracts prepared from the set of eight Argonne coal samples have been characterized by MALDI‐MS. A Kratos Kompact MALDI III linear time‐of‐flight mass spectrometer was used, with a nitrogen laser operating at 337 nm and sinapinic acid as matrix. Spectra were collected by summing 50 laser pulses at low laser fluence to avoid fragmentation of desorbed ions. At low mass, 200–500 u, spectra from the pyrolysis tars and liquefaction extracts showed common features: intense peaks originating from the sinapinic acid matrix, m/z 205, 224 and 246, and, a range of peaks in the mass range from about 250 u to 400 u, which probably corresponds to overlapping homologous series of apparently polar material. A peak of ion intensity between 1000 and 5000 u was systematically observed, which was sample dependent and not always similar for the tar and extract prepared from the same coal. At high masses, separate trends were observed for coal pyrolysis tars and liquefaction extracts: molar mass ranges of pyrolysis tars were smaller, and showed no particular trend with carbon content of the original coal; these findings are consistent with size‐exclusion chromatography derived findings. Spectra of liquefaction extracts extended over wider ranges of molar masses and increased with increasing coal rank; the highest masses extended to 50 000u. Overall, pyrolysis tars appeared structurally different from liquefaction extracts and more difficult to desorb. The effect of changes in laser fluence and ion extraction voltage on mass spectra have been investigated: high‐mass regions of the spectra were found to be very sensitive to the magnitude of the ion extraction voltage. No carbon clusters or fullerene structures were detected.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)815-822
Number of pages8
JournalRapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Spectroscopy
  • Organic Chemistry


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