That new car smell. The taste a food takes on after being stored in a plastic container. The smell of a freshly painted room. These recognizable smells are all due to outgassing.
Outgassing, also known as offgassing, is a normal process for many manufactured products. However, ensuring that emissions are safe for humans and don’t contaminate the product are critical for manufacturers. And outgassing testing can do just that.
What is Outgassing?
Outgassing is the release of a gas that was dissolved, trapped, frozen or absorbed into a material. Outgassing usually happens when components, such as adhesives or other polymers, are exposed to heat.
While some outgassing is normal, it can cause air pollution and even product contamination that can lead to product failures. For example, a computer hard drive is located in a sealed and heated environment. If a polymer were to release plasticizers or other low molecular weight materials in this environment, the outgassed materials could reform in another location of a hard drive and cause shorts, crashes and other malfunctions.
What is Outgassing Testing?
Outgassing testing, also called outgas testing, uses specialized material testing methods to evaluate products for potential and existing outgassing risks. Common outgassing testing techniques include static headspace analysis and dynamic headspace analysis.
In static headspace analysis, a sample is heated to a specific temperature in a sealed vial. This is done so that volatile compounds can escape into the headspace area above the sample. The gases from the headspace in the vial are then removed and analyzed. This technique is ideal for detecting residual solvents, unreacted monomers and other low molecular weight contaminants.
In dynamic headspace analysis, the sample is sealed in a vessel which is purged with gas while it’s being heated. The gas flows through a sorbent material which collects and concentrates the organic constituents being offgassed from the sample. The sorbent material is then desorbed onto the GC/MS for analysis. This method is best used for higher molecular weight contaminants such as siloxanes and plasticizers like phthalates.
What Are the Benefits of Outgassing Testing?
Simply put, outgassing testing ensures products are contaminant free, safe for consumer use and work as they’re intended. Outgassing testing can:
- Identify causes or potential causes of product failure or malfunctions.
- Determine if a product is releasing any harmful toxins. (This is often a concern with plastics used for packaging and plastic products such as water bottles or kids’ toys.)
- Determine if any residual solvents are present.
- Identify strange odors coming from a product.
Outgassing is certainly normal for manufactured products. However, outgassing testing is a must to identify any existing or potential issues, and ensure product quality and safety.
For more information on outgassing testing, contact Innovatech Labs today.