An automated sample preparation and analysis procedure was developed to monitor the formation of ethyl methane sulfonate from reaction mixtures containing ethanol and methane sulfonic acid. The system is based on a liquid handling robot combined with a static headspace module. The formed ethyl methane sulfonate is analysed after derivatisation with pentafluorothiophenol using static headspace-gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (SHS-GC–MS).
Using the automated reaction–derivatisation–headspace GC–MS system, the formation of ethyl methane sulfonate can be monitored in different reaction mixtures under different reaction conditions, including temperature, water content and pH. Excellent linearity, repeatability and robustness were obtained, allowing the system to be used in kinetic studies.