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Dr. Alena Kubátová
Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor & Director of RecruitmentM.S., 1994, Department of Analytical Chemistry, Charles University, Prague; Ph.D., 1997, Department of Analytical Chemistry, Charles University & Institute of Microbiology, Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague; Postdoctoral Research Associate, 1998-1999, University of Antwerp; Postdoctoral Research Associate, 2000-2002, Energy and Environmental Research Center (EERC), UND; Research Scientist, 2003, EERC, UND.
The research of my group focuses on the development of analytical separation methods. The areas of interest target understanding of the origins of air pollution and its relation to climate changes and health, the detailed characterization of biofuels, and determination of biologically active species. The methods developed typically involve the use of chromatographic techniques with various types of detectors, mainly mass spectrometry (MS), e.g., the instrumentation which is frequently used in research and industry. In our approach, the importance of sample preparation is emphasized, particularly the impact of possible matrix-analyte interactions. This is essential not only for the correct determination of analytes in various matrices, but also for studies involving fate (availability) of the analytes within various processes.
Understanding atmospheric chemistry processes
Air particulate matter is known for its adverse impact on health, as well as on ever discussed climate changes. The building blocks of particulate matter are metals, salts, organic species, and elemental carbon. While inorganics are well characterized, only limited information (~50%) is available on organic species.
The organics can be divided into polar and nonpolar species. Nonpolar and slightly polar compounds are directly related to primary emissions, and have been well characterized using organic solvent extraction and GC-MS. Thus, the interest of our laboratory lies in polar and also heavier molecular weight organics, which are primarily formed from the atmospheric oxidation of volatile and semi-volatile organic species (secondary aerosol formation). This is reflected in the current study on heterogeneous reactions of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) with various atmospheric oxidants such as NO2 and O3 (funded by the National Science Foundation, ATM No. 0747349). Another study looking into the composition of PM with respect to the occurrence of high molecular weight species and their formation using thermal extraction/pyrolysis with online GC-MS.
Lignin thermal decomposition and characterization
The project involves the collaboration of two North Dakota schools (UND and NDSU) and two South Dakota schools (SDSU and SDSMT) on the comprehensive approach to lignin utilization for production of valuable chemicals that may serve as renewable replacements of petrochemicals. The key technical issues essential for success of the whole project are addressed in three technical and one non-technical tasks.
Thermal decomposition: This process also has been attempted for decades at 300-500 °C at high pressures in aqueous or protic solvents, i.e., under sub- or supercritical conditions. However, this process is known to produce large amounts of coke and tars, and also low-value gas-phase products; thus, its practical implementation remains questionable. Cokes and tars are produced due to re-polymerization of lignin degradation products to form even more recalcitrant polymers. The team seeks several solutions of this re-polymerization problem including the use of product-altering catalysts and multiple-step processes. In addition, the use of a novel scalable flow reactor will accommodate the tar formation, with its subsequent conversion to useful elemental carbon based materials.
Analysis of lignin: This key task is designed to provide the basis for success of the other technical tasks. Lignin is an irregular polymer, so its chemical analysis is complicated. But even the products of lignin degradation, either biochemical or thermal, are not that easy to identify and quantify. This is because the "workhorse" of modern chemical analysis, gas chromatography, is not well-suited for the analysis of oligomers, significant intermediate and final products of lignin decomposition. Many previous studies report the analysis of only a very small fraction of products, i.e., GC-elutable phenolic monomers. The BioCon team sets out to address this problem by developing reliable and comprehensive analytical protocol
At present, biofuels seem to be the most easily accessible source of alternative energy. In collaboration with the Chemical Engineering Department (within Sunrise projects) we are studying biofuels generated mainly by the pyrolysis of biomass. In order to fully understand processes of biofuel formation, we are developing methods typically employing GC-MS/FID for detailed characterization. The results obtained enable us not only to improve our understanding of the reaction mechanisms occurring within the process but also making the process more cost effective through possible discoveries of valuable byproducts.
Isolation of biologically active molecules from plant matrices
Today, various bioactive molecules are isolated and/or synthesized to be used in products for the food and drug industry. Our work involves development of selective isolation methods, preferentially using nontoxic solvents such as carbon dioxide and water, for antioxidants, vitamins, essential oils, and other important plant components. Identification of these species is performed using gas and liquid chromatographic techniques with mass spectrometric detection.
RECENT REPRESENTATIVE PUBLICATION
Cochran, R.; Kubátová, A. Pressurized Fluid Extraction of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons and Their Polar Oxidation Products from Atmospheric Particles Int. J. Environ. Anal. Chem. 2015, 95,5 , 434-452.http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03067319.2015.1025225
Rousová, J.; Ondrušová, K; Karlová, P; Kubátová, A; Determination of Impurities in Bioproduced Succinic Acid, J. Chromatogr. Sept Tech. 2015, 6:2 http://dx.doi.org/10.4172/2157-7064.1000264
A. Kubátová, A; Geetla, A; Casey, J.; Linnen, M.J.; Seames, W.S.; Smoliakova, I.P; Kozliak, E.I. Cleavage of Carboxylic Acid Moieties in Triacylglycerides during Non-catalytic Pyrolysis J. Am. Oil Chem. Soc. 2015, 92, 755-767. DOI 10.1007/s11746-015-2633-4
Linnen, M.; Seames, W.; Kubatova, A.;Menon, S.; Alisala, K.; Hash, S. T Evaluation of microbial triglyceride oil purification requirements for the CelTherm process: an efficient biochemical pathway to renewable fuels and chemicals. J. Bioprocess and Biosystems Engineering online 2014, 1615-7591. DOI 10.1007/s00449-014-1190-9
Dongari, N.; Sauter, E.; Tande, B.M.; Kubátová, A. Determination of Celecoxib in human plasma using liquid chromatography with high resolution time of flight-mass spectrometry, J. Chromatogr. B. 2014, 955-956, 86-92. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jchromb.2014.02.012
Totlandsdal, A. I., Øvrevik, J., Cochran, R., Herseth, J.-I., Kocbach, A., Låg, M., Schwarze, P., Holme, J. A., Kubatova, A. The occurrence of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and their derivatives and the pro inflammatory potential of fractionated extracts of diesel exhaust and wood smoke particles. J. Environ. Sci. Health A 2014, 49 (4), 383–396 DOI: 10.1080/10934529.2014.854586.
Beránek, J.; Kozliak, E. ; Kubátová, A. Evaluation of sequential solvent and thermal extraction followed by analytical pyrolysis for chemical characterization of carbonaceous particulate matter. J. Chromatogr. A 2013, 1279, 27–35. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chroma.2013.01.021
Kubátová, A.; Pedersen, D. Developing and Implementing an Interdisciplinary Air Pollution Workshop to Reach and Engage Rural High School Students in Science J. Chem. Ed., 2013, 90 (4), 417–422. DOI 10.1021/ed200670m
Kozliak, E.; Mota, R.; Rodriguez, D.; Overby, P.; Kubátová, A.; Stahl, D.; Niri, V.; Ogden, G. Seames, w. Non-catalytic cracking of jojoba oil to produce fuel and chemical by-products, Ind. Crops Prod. 43, 2013, 386–392. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.indcrop.2012.07.042
Cochran, R.E.; Dongari, N.; Jeong, H.; Beránek, J.; Haddadi, S.; Shipp, J.; Kubátová, A. Determination of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and their oxy-, nitro-, and hydroxy-oxidation products. Anal. Chim. Acta, 2012, 740, 93–103.
Šťávová, J.; Stahl, D.C. Seames, W.S.; Kubátová, A. Method development for the characterization of biofuel intermediate products using gas chromatography with simultaneous mass spectrometric and flame ionization detections. J. Chromatogr., 2012, 1224, 79-88. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chroma.2011.12.013
Kubátová, A.; Šťávová, J.; Seames, W.S; Luo, Y.; Sandrameli, S.M.; Linnen; M.J.; Baglayeva, G.V.; Smoliakova, I.P. Kozliak, E. I. Triacylglyceride thermal cracking:Pathways to cyclic hydrocarbons. Energy and Fuels, 2012, 26(1) 672–685. DOI: 10.1021/ef200953d
Totlandsdal, A.I.; Herseth, J.-I.; Kocbach, A.; Kubatova, A.; Braun, A.; Cochran, R.; Refsnes, M.; Øvrevik, J.; Låg, M. Differential effects of the particle core and organic extract of diesel exhaust particles Toxicol. Letters 2012, 208 (3) 262–268. doi: 10.1016/j.toxlet.2011.10.025
Kubátová, A.; Luo, Y.; Šťávová, J.; Aulich, T., Kozliak, E; Seames, W. New path in thermal cracking of triacyl glycerides (Canola and Soybean Oil), Fuel, 2011, 90, 2598–2608. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.fuel.2011.04.022
Braegelmann, M.P.; Azure, A.D.; Stahl, D. Kubátová, A; Seames, W.S.; Tande, B.M. Extraction of Fatty Acids from Noncatalytically Cracked Triacylglycerides Using Aqueous Amines. Sep. Sci. Technol. 2011 46(14) 2167–2173. DOI: 10.1080/01496395.2011.595755
Šťávová, J.; Beránek, J.; Nelson, E.P.; Diep, B.D.; Kubátová, A. Limits of detections for the determination of mono and dicarboxylic acids using gas and liquid chromatographic methods coupled with mass spectrometry. J. Chromatogr. B, 2010 879(17-18),1429-1438.
Šťávová, J.; Sedgeman, C.A.; Smith, Z.T.; Frink, L.A.; Hart, J.A. Niri, V.H.; Kubátová, A. Method development for the determination of wood preservatives in commercially treated wood using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Anal. Chim. Acta, 2010, 702, 205–212.
Kubátová, A., Luo, Y., Šťávová, J., Sadrameli, M., Aulich, T., Kozliak, E. and Seames, W. New Path in Thermal Cracking of Triacyl Glycerides (Canola and Soybean Oil),” Fuel, 2011, 90, 2958-2602.
Beránek, J.; Muggli, D.; Kubátová, A. Efficiency of electron and negative chemical ionizations for PFBHA-derivatized aldehydes, J. Am. Soc. Mass Spectrom., 2010, 21 (4), 592–602.
Luo, Y.; Ahmed, I.; Kubátová, A.; Šťávová, J.; Aulich, T.; Sadrameli, S.M.; Seames, W. S. The thermal cracking of soybean/canola oils and their methyl esters. Fuel Proces. Technol., 2010, 91, 613–617.
Seames, W.S.; Luo, Y.; Ahmed, I.; Aulich, T.; Kubátová, A.; Šťávová, J.; Kozliak, E. Upgrading biodiesel via thermal cracking, Biomass Bioenergy, 2010, 34 (7), 939–946.
Kubátová, A.; Lahren T.J.; Beránek, J.; Smoliakova, I.P.; Braun, A.; Huggins, F.E. Significance of extractable organic carbon and its differentiation by polarity in air particulate matter. Aero. Sci. Technol. 2009, 43 (7), 714–729.
Popova, I.E.; Hall, C.; Kubátová, A. Chromatographic mass spectrometric characterization of lignans in flaxseed. J. Chromatogr. A 2009, 1216 (2), 217–229.
Braun, A.; Kubátová, A.; Wirick, S.; Mun, S.B. Radiation damage from EELS and NEXAFs in diesel soot and diesel soot extracts. J. Electron. Spectr. Rel. Phen. 2009, 170, 42–48.
Beránek, J.; Kubátová, A. Evaluation of solid-phase microextraction methods for determination of trace concentration aldehydes in aqueous solution. J. Chromatogr. A 2008, 1209 (1-2), 44–54.
Braun, A.; Huggins, F.E.; Kubátová, A.; Wirick, S., Maricq, M.M.; Mun, B.S.; McDonald, J.D.; Kelly, K.E.; Shah, N.; Huffman, G.P. Towards distinguishing wood-smoke and diesel exhaust particulates in ambient particulate matter. Environ. Sci. Technol. 2008, 42 (2), 374–380.
Kubátová, A.; Honzatko, A; Brichac, J.; Long, E; Picklo, M.J., Analysis of HNE metabolism in CNS models, Redox Report 2007, 12, 16–19.