New Technology for Rapid Isotopic Measurement of Soil Organic Matter to Quantify Carbon Sequestration in Climate Change Studies
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AbstractEcological processes lead to distinctive isotope patterns. Measuring the isotopic signatures provide answers to fundamental questions on bio-productivity and energy cycling and give clues to the origin of life and evolution. Consequently, isotopic data hold keys to predicting future climate changes that may influence global temperature, energy needs, availability of drinking water, and food supplies. Carbon isotopes are most important for understanding of biochemistry but measuring only one isotope is insufficient. Several key isotopes will provide main constraints on the processes. Currently mass spectrometers are used for isotopic measurements but they require deep vacuum and time- consuming dissolution of samples prior to analysis. Thus, the isotopes cannot be measured in the field. Applied Spectra invented a new technology: Laser Ablation Molecular Isotopic Spectrometry (LAMIS) that provides real-time isotopic measurements at atmospheric pressure directly in the field. The ability of LAMIS for simultaneous elemental and isotopic analysis, including depth profiling and chemical mapping makes it a useful tool for carbon sequestration in climate change studies. The feasibility of LAMIS for carbon and nitrogen isotopes was demonstrated in Phase I. We completed calculations and experiments to verify high sensitivity of LAMIS to sub-natural abundances. The proposed development for Phase II includes methods, sampling protocols and chemometric multivariate calibration for high accuracy and sensitivity in C, N, H isotopic measurements. LAMIS spectra will be correlated to the standard isotope-ratio mass spectrometry (IRMS). The LIBS-LAMIS hardware components and final configuration will be established in Phase II. An overall goal is to integrate LAMIS technology in a prototype commercial instrument, providing rapid LIBS and LAMIS measurements at the same time. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: LAMIS has a significant potential for multiple commercial applications. It is poised to speed up, to simplify and to make isotopic analysis more affordable than at present. We anticipate applications in ecological and agronomical studies, carbon sequestration, natural gas and oil exploration, medical diagnostics and therapies, forensics, homeland security, paleoclimatology, material sciences, biological research and life sciences. LAMIS will revolutionize isotopic measurements. No other technology provides isotopic ratio measurements at atmospheric pressure and without a mass spectrometer. We believe this project will be carried over into Phase III and beyond. A large area of future applications is related to the Marcellus shale gas exploration: C and H isotopes will help distinguish Marcellus organics from other organics.
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