Can Ever-Increasing Analytical Sensitivity and Sustainability Go Hand in Hand?

By March 31, 2022

From climate change to plastic pollution, many industries and organizations are focused on how they can reduce their impact on the environment and we, at Waters, are no different.

As recently highlighted in our sustainability report, we share a common mission with our customers, and many other industries, to leave the world better than we found it. We believe that sustainable activities inspire innovation and contribute to operational excellence, so we try to integrate sustainable thinking and practice into our strategy, operations, and products. This is particularly challenging when it comes to delivering improvements in sensitivity, but it’s a challenge we’ve met with vigor.

waters xevo tq absolute

Xevo TQ Absolute tandem quadrupole mass spectrometer

I’m very excited to announce the launch of our new XevoTQ Absolute tandem quadrupole mass spectrometer. This instrument will change the landscape of high-performance tandem quad instrumentation. What excites me the most beyond the vastly superior performance of the instrument – is its sustainability.

Sensitivity at the Cost of Sustainability

When considering tandem quadrupole mass spectrometry instruments, it’s widely viewed that higher sensitivity is better. While manufacturers may develop increasingly sensitive instruments, they are faced with making compromises elsewhere. For example, widening the entrance to the MS analyzer and providing enhanced pumping to cope with the increased gas load can increase sensitivity, but it bears a negative impact of introducing more matrix into the system, which increases the need for cleaning and, as a result, downtime. In addition, the enhanced pumping capacity increases the electricity consumption of the instrument, overhead costs for customers, and is not as environmentally sustainable.

The new Xevo TQ Absolute uses less electricity and gas than many other high-performance tandem quadrupole instruments, while still maintaining significantly increased sensitivity, with up to 15 x better sensitivity for negative ionizing compounds than its predecessor. Heat displacement (Btu/hr) is also reduced, resulting in a significantly lower air conditioning demand than other instruments on the market.


Comparison of key sustainability factors between Xevo TQ Absolute and Sciex 7500.


These improvements combine to deliver a solution that:

  • reduces your environmental footprint
  • achieves lower limits of quantitation
  • ensures consistent robustness over long periods of time
  • provides superior efficiency from advanced software solutions

A Move Towards Reducing Disposable Parts

The impact of a disposable society can be seen through pollution, habitat and biodiversity loss, land misuse, and resource depletion. To combat this, habitual changes and a move towards reusable materials have triggered a decline in items such as single-use plastics.

With our customers in mind, we designed our new instrument to not only meet our commitment to reducing disposable parts, but to ensure our customers are as productive as possible with minimal disruption or downtime. All Waters tandem quadrupole instruments, including the new Xevo TQ Absolute use photomultiplier detectors which typically last the lifetime of the instrument. In contrast with all other tandem quadrupoles, others use electron multiplier detectors that require gain adjustments over time and have to be replaced. Our tandem quadrupole instruments are not only more sustainable, but they also save valuable time for our users as they do not require gain adjustment procedures.

Xevo TQ Absolute photomultiplier detector

The Smallest High Performance Tandem Quadrupole Instrument on the Market

Bigger, doesn’t always mean better, especially from an environmental perspective. Bigger often means more resources, materials, and energy, plus increased packaging and fuel to transport.

However, with the development of the Xevo TQ Absolute, we’ve tackled these issues by creating the smallest, most sensitive high-performance tandem quadrupole instrument on the market that:

  • takes up 45% less bench space than the leading competitor – allowing lab space to be used more efficiently
  • requires less resources to get from our manufacturing facility to our customer’s labs.

Absolute Power Can Absolutely Be More Sustainable

Changing the landscape of high-performance tandem quadrupole mass spectrometry is about much more than increased performance. It’s about re-evaluating how we deliver solutions to  not only meet the changing needs of our customers, but to also meet the changing needs of the world, helping to leave it better than we found it.

Learn more about Xevo TQ Absolute

Additional Resources:

Blog: Accelerate Complex Materials Formulation Screening with Mass Spectrometry Analysis

Blog: USEPA Approves APGC Tandem Quadruple Mass Spectrometry as Alternative Test Procedure for Dioxin Analysis







Categories: Technologies