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Using Gas Chromatography to Separate and Identify Components of Clove Oil

Organic chemistry techniques can be used to extract natural essential oils from spices, specifically clove oil. Clove oil is composed of several compounds, the most abundant of which, as learned by previous researchers, are eugenol, eugenyl acetate, 𝛽-caryophyllene, gallic acid, and ellagic acid.[1,2] The purpose of this research is to separate and identify these components of clove oil using gas chromatography. This technique uses helium gas to push a sample injection of the material through a heated column, causing the sample to change from liquid to vapor inside the column and measuring the amount of time it takes the sample’s components to evaporate and travel through. This time is referred to as retention time as it is a measurement of how long the sample was retained within the column. Identification of peaks at specific retention times can be used to confirm separation of materials within a mixture. Measurable peaks for each individual component were first identified using mixtures of methanol, temperature ranges, and adjusting flow rates. This confirmation then allows a combined chromatogram to be created of all the components of clove oil, to see how retention times between components compare. Using this information, the goal is to create a mixture that mimics the peaks produced from the clove oil sample, which could be stimulated in an organic chemistry lab for students.

Brianna Toomey '23, Althea Smith '24
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