Naphthenic acids (NAs) are naturally occurring organic acids in petroleum and are found in waste waters generated during oil production (produced water, PW). Profiling this class of compounds is important due to flow assurance during oil exploration. Compositional analysis of PW is also relevant for waste treatment to reduce negative impacts on the environment. Here, comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography coupled with high-resolution mass spectrometry (GC×GC–HRMS) was applied as an ideal platform for qualitative analysis of NAs by combining the high peak capacity of the composite system with automated scripts for group-type identification based on accurate mass measurements and fragmentation patterns. To achieve high-throughput profiling of NAs in PW samples, direct-immersion solid phase microextraction (DI-SPME) was selected for extraction, derivatization and preconcentration. A fully automated DI-SPME method was developed to combine extraction, fiber rinsing and drying, and on-fiber derivatization with N-methyl-N‑tert-butyldimethylsilyltrifluoroacetamide (MTBSTFA). Data processing was based on filtering scripts using the Computer Language for Identifying Chemicals (CLIC). The method successfully identified up to 94 NAs comprising carbon numbers between 6 and 18 and hydrogen deficiency values ranging from 0 to -4. The proposed method demonstrated wider extraction coverage compared to traditional liquid-liquid extraction (LLE) – a critical factor for petroleomic investigations. The method developed also enabled quantitative analysis, exhibiting detection limits of 0.5 ng L−1 and relative standard deviation (RSD) at a concentration of NAs of 30 µg L−1 ranging from 4.5 to 25.0%.
- Green chemistry
- Oil and gas