Application Note

Polymer Identification Using Pyrolysis Products Fingerprints


In order for manufacturers and users to control the quality of products, it is necessary to identify polymers and build a polymer library.

Since the 1980s, the combination of thermal pyrolysis and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GCMS) has created a new method of polymer characterization. It can effectively separate and identify the mixtures produced by thermal pyrolysis of polymers which provides a new way to study the thermal decomposition of polymers at the molecular level. The pyrolysis- gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (Py-GCMS) method is suitable for samples in any states and the samples need not to be separated and purified in advance. This feature is extremely beneficial for the study of insoluble and infusible polymers. When pyrolyzing a certain polymer, the mass spectra of products obtained have the characteristics of fingerprints, which can qualitatively identify the target polymer.

In this study, three sets of polymer samples including PP, HDPE and LLDPE were analyzed by pyrolytic gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. The specificity of each sample was shown by comparing fingerprints of pyrolytic products.