petroleum coke - any way to do spectral analysis?

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Liz Barry

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Mar 5, 2014, 1:52:26 PM3/5/14
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Hi folks, 
As you may know, there's a project developing in southeast Chicago around aerial mapping petroleum coke piles that shed toxic dust with oily residue that affects respiratory health. I'll leave further description to Olga and Kate as I am repeating this from what i learned in conversation with them. 

My question to the spectroscopy list (and Dr. Amber Wise in Chicago) is can we do any useful spectral analysis of this stuff? it's ~90% carbon, but what is the last 10%? Maybe it's too complicated?



Liz Barry
director of urban environment
@publiclab

Amber Wise

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Mar 5, 2014, 2:25:46 PM3/5/14
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Sorry - I'm not in the habit of "replying to all" or using email lists, so I originally only sent this to Liz.  Here's my response:

I am looking into this....I don't have a lot of knowledge in this specific area of chemistry, but I'll try and spend a little time investigating if it's possible.
It's definitely possible in a lab - I guess the larger question is how easy do you want it to be?  I know the ultimate goal would be to have citizens/non-scientists to be able to conduct tests, but what about to answer the more pressing question of what's in that 10%?  Would a short/small research project where we tried to profile what was in petcoke in our academic labs be sufficient for SE Chicago?
I'll be in touch,
Amber


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Liz Barry

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Mar 5, 2014, 2:44:33 PM3/5/14
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forwarding Scott and Jeff's messages to the Chicago list because they might have been blocked: 

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Scott Eustis <eust...@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, Mar 5, 2014 at 2:41 PM
Subject: Re: [plots-spectrometry] Re: petroleum coke - any way to do spectral analysis?
To: "plots-spe...@googlegroups.com" <plots-spe...@googlegroups.com>
Cc: Liz Barry <l...@publiclab.org>, public-la...@googlegroups.com


Liz,

Global Community Monitor is doing X Ray spectroscopy on the pet coke and coal samples ( half pet coke and half coal) that Denny's air monitor is pulling out of the dusty black air in lower Plaquemines. 

Here's where i left my "Nungesser" testing--with the green lazer. I dissolved this chunk of coal or pet coke in mineral oil.

s


On Wed, Mar 5, 2014 at 1:27 PM, Jeffrey Warren <je...@publiclab.org> wrote:
Is it possible to dissolve the coke itself for fingerprinting, in a solvent like methanol or something?


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Liz Barry

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Mar 6, 2014, 11:55:49 AM3/6/14
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Amber, 
about doing lab research, 100% yes that is super helpful and would be a huge contribution!
once you figure some stuff out, we can work together on making it a more accessible process. 
By the way, can i encourage you to share how you are thinking about setting up your lab research? We could learn so much from you!

Liz Barry
director of urban environment
@publiclab


Amber Wise

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Mar 6, 2014, 1:25:30 PM3/6/14
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Hello,
Here are my initial  thoughts about confirming the dust is, in fact, from the petcoke piles (fairly obvious, I know, but SCIENCE needs to 'prove' it to have a solid argument against the company that suggests it could be coming from anywhere.....)

An important aspect of doing this experiment(s) is to obtain a decent amount (probably at least a couple cups worth, more would be better) of petcoke from the piles themselves.  This would need to be done in a legal manner if we were to use the data in a public forum, so no late-night trespassing and stealing samples.  To be honest, this may be the most difficult aspect of it.
Then, there will need to be air/surface samples of the dust taken in a clean/scientific way.  I'm not very familiar with this type of sample collection, so if anyone has suggestions, let me know.  I imagine it would entail probably a sterile/clean cloth being wiped over a surface while wearing lab gloves to avoid dirty hand contamination, then the cloth would need to be soaked in the extraction solvent.
I'm still trying to figure out the best analytical method, if it would be an IR spectra to match "fingerprint" regions between samples or if it would be something more sophisticated like a separation/chromatography or......?

I think we should also do elemental analysis to figure out what kinds/how much heavy metals are mixed in.   

There are many issues I can foresee arising, such as the piles themselves might vary in composition, depending on where exactly the material comes from, or being able to have some sort of "control" for our dust to confirm it's not from some other source...... but I think I'll wait to worry about those until we need to.

I don't have any experience with air monitoring for particle size, but I know very simple to operate equipment exists, so hopefully another group like that lung society in chicago might be able to help with this?  The size of the particles will be an especially important aspect to characterize because there are specific regulations for 2.5micron and 10 micron sizes.  

Amber

Liz Barry

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Mar 6, 2014, 3:07:56 PM3/6/14
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adding in plots-airquality

Liz Barry
director of urban environment
@publiclab


Jeffrey Warren

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Mar 6, 2014, 5:47:21 PM3/6/14
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Hi, Amber - i like the suggested methodology. I guess it will depend on if you want to identify *everything* in the sample or just some targets, or just match it to the petcoke references. 

Do you think that if you soaked the wipe-cloth in extract solvent (like methanol or something) you'd potentially get a fluorescence spectrum you could use to match, like in the tests Scott's been doing? Examples: http://publiclab.org/notes/warren/11-08-2013/fluorescence-of-bp-oil-with-uv-laser-successhttp://publiclab.org/notes/warren/12-11-2013/spectrometry-sample-extraction-at-the-parts-crafts-toolshed-raising

Jeff

Liz Barry

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Mar 11, 2014, 1:03:08 PM3/11/14
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I have some bits of petcoke here in brooklyn that Kate Koval gave me...it would be cool to try to prep them somehow to do something with them at our local workshop this weekend. Any ideas?

Liz Barry
director of urban environment
@publiclab


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Jeffrey Warren

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Mar 11, 2014, 1:11:40 PM3/11/14
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See if they dissolve in mineral oil, isopropyl or methanol? Careful!

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