A multifaceted investigation on the effect of vacuum on the headspace solid-phase microextraction of extra-virgin olive oil.Anal Chim Acta. 2020 Mar 22; 1103:106-114.AC
Headspace solid-phase microextraction (HS-SPME) is an easy, effective, and selective technique for the extraction of volatiles and semi-volatiles compounds. For the latter, longer equilibration times are needed, which are typically shortened by applying agitation or heating the sample. A less explored way to improve the extraction kinetics of analytes with a low-affinity for the headspace is to sample under vacuum conditions. The methodology that evolved from this approach was termed "vacuum-assisted HS-SPME" (Vac-HS-SPME) and was mainly used for water- and solid-based samples. The aim of this work was to investigate the effect of vacuum when dealing with non-aqueous liquid samples. For this purpose, the volatile profile of extra virgin olive oil was analyzed using a divinylbenzene/carboxen/polydimethylsiloxane fiber followed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. The effects of extraction temperature and sampling time were investigated using traditional one-variable at a time approach and a two-variable central component design for both Vac-HS-SPME and regular HS-SPME. The results showed an important enhancement in the extraction of semi-volatile compounds when using Vac-HS-SPME, and improved the information gained for the olive oil aroma fingerprint. A theoretical formulation of the underlying process was proposed, providing new insights into the SPME extraction theory. Lowering the sampling pressure effectively reduced gas-sided limitations and accelerated extraction kinetics. However, for viscous samples such as olive oils, the liquid-phase resistance played an important role and delayed extraction. Overall, applying heating (i.e. reducing the viscosity of the oily sample and increasing headspace concentrations) next to reducing the total pressure in the headspace is the best analytical HS-SPME strategy for obtaining fast a rich volatile profile from the oily samples.