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Offensive odor in finished goods can be a very serious issue for any manufacturer. The source is often difficult to track down and the impact can be felt in customer complaints, and in the worst cases, has led to product recalls.
Odor analysis can be fairly straightforward when dealing with raw materials. The analysis of finished goods is much more difficult as there are multiple components, including base sheets, coatings, inks, adhesives, etc.
Once inks and adhesives come into play, it is not uncommon to find dozens of target compounds. The issue then becomes figuring out which compound(s) is causing the off odor. U.S.-based SGS-IPS Testing utilizes an Olfactory Detection Port (ODP) and a Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometer (GCMS) to increase our ability to determine the source of off odors in a complicated matrix.
To complete the odor analysis, the sample is introduced into the GC for separation and the column effluent is split between the Mass Spectrometer for identification and the Olfactory Port for subjective identification of the odor. This system allows SGS-IPS to separate complicated mixtures and correlate the chemical components to the source of the odor.
The Problem: A paper manufacturer came to us with a customer complaint about their copy paper. The paper had a noticeable dead fish odor to it when run through the copier, obviously not a desirable attribute.
The Analysis: The GCMS expert at SGS-IPS Testing developed a plan to identify the cause of the malodor. The sample was analyzed by GCMS Static Headspace with an Olfactory Detector Port. The analyst confirmed the off-odors in the copy paper were volatile organic compounds
The Conclusion: It was determined that Acetic acid and Butanoic acid was present. These two compounds are Volatile Fatty Acids, and they are most often produced from anaerobic fermentation in the starch during the wet-end coating of the papermaking process. The paper manufacturer selected an appropriate biocide to control the problem in their process and the odor problem was fixed.