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Testing the use of septum-capped vials for 13C-isotope abundance analysis of carbon dioxide

By S.M.L. Hardie, M.H. Garnett, A.E Fallick, A.W. Stott, A.P. Rowland and N.J. Ostle


Studying ecosystem processes in the context of carbon cycling and climate change has never been\ud more important. Stable carbon isotope studies of gas exchange within terrestrial ecosystems are\ud commonly undertaken to determine sources and rates of carbon cycling. To this end, septum-capped\ud vials (‘Exetainers’) are often used to store samples of CO2 prior to mass spectrometric analysis. To\ud evaluate the performance of such vials for preserving the isotopic integrity (d13C) and concentration\ud of stored CO2 we performed a rigorous suite of tests. Septum-capped vials were filled with standard\ud gases of varying CO2 concentrations (700 to 4000 ppm), d13C values (approx. 26.5 to R1.8%V-PDB)\ud and pressures (33 and 67% above ambient), and analysed after a storage period of between 7 and 28\ud days. The vials performed well, with the vast majority of both isotope and CO2 concentration results\ud falling within the analytical uncertainty of chamber standard gas values. Although the study\ud supports the use of septum-capped vials for storing samples prior to mass spectrometric analysis,\ud it does highlight the need to ensure that sampling chamber construction is robust (air-tight)

Topics: Agriculture and Soil Science, Ecology and Environment, Chemistry, Atmospheric Sciences
Publisher: Wiley
Year: 2010
DOI identifier: 10.1002/rcm.4575
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