THM PyGC–MS of wood fragment and vegetable fibre forensic samples

Journal of Analytical and Applied Pyrolysis(2009)

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Wood fragments and vegetable fibres were investigated using thermally assisted hydrolysis and methylation with pyrolysis gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (THM PyGC–MS). Multiple ion chromatography was used to decrease the interference from cellulosic peaks, and to obtain greater resolution between the lignin peaks. Forty-four wood samples were analysed using THM PyGC–MS. The wood fragments were able to be differentiated into angiosperms (hardwoods) and gymnosperms (softwoods) using principle component analysis (PCA), hierarchical cluster analysis (HCA), and the ratio of syringyl to guaiacyl lignin fragments (S/G ratio). PCA and HCA also differentiated several Monterey pine samples from the rest of the gymnosperms, primarily by the presence of β-pinene, an extractive compound. Other gymnosperm species and the individual angiosperm species were unable to be differentiated. A pilot study investigating the use of THM PyGC–MS for the analysis of vegetable fibres in forensic science found that the fibre types tended to group into two clusters, with one containing cotton, hemp and linen; and the other consisting of hessian, sisal, jute and coir. The seagrass sample was able to be differentiated from both groups. These groups were well separated using PCA, HCA and by the ratio of cinnamyl phenolic derivatives to guaiacyl lignin derivatives (C/G ratio). Some grouping of each fibre type was evident within each cluster, however the separation between the clusters was insufficient to differentiate them using these statistical techniques. THM PyGC–MS of vegetable fibres showed some potential for future use in forensic science.
Thermally assisted hydrolysis and methylation pyrolysis gas chromatography–mass spectrometry,Tetramethylammonium hydroxide,Wood,Fibres,Lignin,Syringyl/guaiacyl ratio,Cinnamyl/guaiacyl ratio,Principle component analysis,Hierarchical cluster analysis
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