E2S: Energy and Environment Solutions

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FT Mass Spectrometer

MARSS: A Center for Mass Spectrometry

Winner of the call for projects "Equipment Excellence", the MARSS project (MAss Spectrometry Center for Reactivity and Speciation Sciences) was initiated by the IPREM.

Begun in 2013 for a ten-year perio, the MARSS project consists in the creation of a center of mass spectrometry for studying metal speciation. With a total investment of nearly 35 million euros, the program includes the equipment purchase and the construction of a new building to house it.

Olivier Donard, the MARSS project leader, explains:

"Our goal is to have a very high-level instrumental platform, the only of its kind in the world, with four complementary mass spectrometers for research on speciation and chemical reactivity: an HR MC ICP/MS, a 15 Tesla FT MS, a NanoSIMS and a TOF-SIMS."

The project has multiple aims in the understanding of metals and metalloids:

  • understanding their chemical identity or their isotopic signature;
  • understanding their primary reactivity, associated with transformation kinetics;
  • identifying, and localizing through 2D or 3D imagery, chemical species presenting interesting surrounding matrices, on surfaces or interfaces.

The project, whose operations began in 2016, plans to be self-financing. "We should be able to generate revenu by select services with a very high added value", Olivier Donard explains, citing areas like the food industry or research on batteries.

The FT MS equipment of the MARSS (MAss Spectrometry for Reactivity and Speciation Sciences) project consists of two high resolution electrospray/atmospheric pressure ionization Orbitrap MSn instruments coupled to chromatographic nanoHPLC and UPLC separation systems and complemented by elemental plasma spectrometry (ICP MS). The resolution offered reaches 280 000 for QExactive+ and 1 000 000 (3s transients at m/z 200) for Lumos Fusion MS (ThermoScientific) instruments, respectively. The precision of mass determination down to 1 ppm is possible. The platform allows quantitative determination of known and identification of unknown organic and metal-organic molecules covering large molecular mass range from 100 to 100,000 Da. The performance can be further improved by the use of a state-of-the-art sample nanospray introduction NanoMate system handling micro- and nanovolume liquid samples and allowing surface analysis.

The current research topics in environmental sciences include:

The recent successful studies on the energy related environmental problems have been focused on the determination of metabolites of BTEX (benzene-toluene-ethylbenzene-xylene) anaerobic degradation in groundwater in the vicinity of aquifers hosting natural gas storage and the determination of non-radioactive passive water fluorobenzoic acid tracers for oil field applications.

The contamination problems related to high natural metal occurrence and mining activities have been addressed in the frame of both fundamental and application oriented projects. They included the identification and quantification of iron-metabolites in plants species tolerant to excess Fe and recommended for the recovery of degraded post-mining waste areas, the identification of the biomolecules involved in Al detoxification in plants, nickel hyperaccumulation and Cd, Zn and Cu detoxification.