Phosgene

Introduction

Phosgene is the common name for Carbonic Dichloride, a gaseous compound. It is very toxic at ppb- concentrations already. Phosgene is a very important precursor in the chemical industry for the production of e.g. polyurethanes, pharmaceutics colors, etc. and therefore widely used. Even though it is handled in hermetic closed systems only, several generators for Phosgene are in operation worldwide to at least avoid all risks caused by transportation also. The effects of intoxication can occur hours or even days after exposition. Thus, it is very dangerous. Due to its toxicity, Phosgene was used as one of the first chemical warfare agents (CWA) during world war one. So it is still present as residual in historic battle fields as a containment of old ammunition.

Challenge

A potential exposition to human bodies can occur by inhalation. Due to the chemical properties of Phosgene, it reaches easily the area of the exchange between blood and air in the lungs, where it decomposes to Carbon monoxide and Hydrochloric acid. This will immediately burn the pulmonary alveoli, which of course leads to a painful death by pulmonary edema. Humans potentially exposed to Phosgene, normally are workers in chemical plants, where Phosgene is used for production processes but also research institutes handling this compound. Last but not least workers in ammunition disposal sites are potentially in danger. Furthermore for living areas close to such sites this poses a significant threat. So it is mandatory to monitor not only work places but also the whole environment for the presence of traces of Phosgene to generate an early warning.

Solution

IUT Technologies’ IMS-Analyzer is capable of detecting and quantifying substances like these in the required (sub-) ppb concentration level. The coupling of a gas chromatographic pre- separation prior to the high sensitive IMS technology provides an analyzing performance, where compounds like PFIB can be measured and quantified with outstanding sensitivity, repeatability within cycle times of less than a minute. By applying GC- pre separation, the unique method properties of IMS are available even in the background matrix of chemical production plants.

IMS- Analyzers are based on a field-proven Ion Mobility Spectrometry (IMS) technique that is highly selective and sensitive to fluorinated hydrocarbons. IMS is an atmospheric pressure, time of flight detection technique. The sensitivity, selectivity, and speed of response make the technique superior in many aspects compared to other monitoring methods. The industry- proof spectrometer design allows using these advantages in 24/7 stand- alone operation. Unlike electrochemical devices, the IMS units are impervious to extreme temperature or humidity conditions. IUT Technologies’ IMS units are designed for long term, continuous measurements with little or no maintenance and few consumables. The electronics are completely solid-state without moving parts or optics to require alignment.

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