Skip to main content
Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

A passive sampling method for radiocarbon analysis of atmospheric CO<sub>2</sub> using molecular sieve

By M.H. Garnett and I.P. Hartley


Radiocarbon (<sup>14</sup>C) analysis of atmospheric CO<sub>2</sub> can provide information on CO<sub>2</sub> sources and is potentially valuable for validating inventories of fossil fuel-derived CO<sub>2</sub> emissions to the atmosphere. We tested zeolite molecular sieve cartridges, in both field and laboratory experiments, for passively collecting atmospheric CO<sub>2</sub>. Cartridges were exposed to the free atmosphere in two configurations which controlled CO<sub>2</sub> trapping rate, allowing collection of sufficient CO<sub>2</sub> in between 1.5 and 10 months at current levels. <sup>14</sup>C results for passive samples were within measurement uncertainty of samples collected using a pump-based system, showing that the method collected samples with <sup>14</sup>C contents representative of the atmosphere. δ<sup>13</sup>C analysis confirmed that the cartridges collected representative CO<sub>2</sub> samples, however, fractionation during passive trapping means that δ<sup>13</sup>C values need to be adjusted by an amount which we have quantified. Trapping rate was proportional to atmospheric CO<sub>2</sub> concentration, and was not affected by exposure time unless this exceeded a threshold. Passive sampling using molecular sieve cartridges provides an easy and reliable method to collect atmospheric CO<sub>2</sub> for <sup>14</sup>C analysis

Topics: GE
Year: 2010
OAI identifier:
Provided by: Enlighten

Suggested articles


  1. (1991). 13C/ 12C fractionation and its utility in terrestrial plant studies. In: doi
  2. (1975). 14C/ 12C ratios as tracers of urban pollution. In: Symposium on isotope ratios as pollutant source and behaviour indicators.
  3. (1998). A new tube technique (METT) for continuous gas measurements in soils. doi
  4. (2009). A passive sampling method for radiocarbon analysis of soil respiration using molecular sieve. doi
  5. (2008). Can the envisaged reductions of fossil fuel CO2 emissions be detected by atmospheric observations? doi
  6. (2005). Carbon dioxide capture using a zeolite molecular sieve sampling system for isotopic studies ( 13C and 14C) of respiration.
  7. (2008). Climate change - Carbon crucible. doi
  8. (1991). Concentration and carbon isotopic composition of atmospheric CO2 in Southern Poland. doi
  9. (2009). Forty years of atmospheric radiocarbon monitoring around Bohunice nuclear power plant, doi
  10. (2009). Isotope ( 14C and 13C) analysis of deep peat CO2 using a passive sampling technique. doi
  11. (2004). Measurement of long-term average carbon dioxide concentrations using passive diffusion sampling. doi
  12. (1998). Measurement of low-level airborne 14CO2 in the environment using passive sampling. doi
  13. (2005). Pan-European delta C13 values of air and organic matter from forest ecosystems. doi
  14. (2006). Passive flux samplers to measure nitrous oxide and methane emissions from agricultural sources, Part 1: Adsorbent selection. doi
  15. (1987). Preparation of small samples for 14C accelerator targets by catalytic reduction of CO.
  16. (2000). Radiocarbon - A unique tracer of global carbon cycle dynamics.
  17. (2008). Radiocarbon observations in atmospheric CO 2: Determining fossil fuel CO2 over Europe using Jungfraujoch observations as background. doi
  18. (1977). Reporting of 14C data.
  19. (1995). The stable isotopic composition and measurement of carbon in soil CO2. doi

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.