Polymer Science Faculty Research

Simple, rapid, and highly sensitive detection of diphosgene and triphosgene by spectrophotometric methods

Abraham Joy, The University of Akron


Methods for the detection and estimation of diphosgene and triphosgene are described. These compounds are widely used phosgene precursors which produce an intensely colored purple pentamethine oxonol dye when reacted with 1,3-dimethylbarbituric acid (DBA) and pyridine (or a pyridine derivative). Two quantitative methods are described, based on either UV absorbance or fluorescence of the oxonol dye. Detection limits are approximately 4 micromol/L by UV and <0.4 micromol/L by fluorescence. The third method is a test strip for the simple and rapid detection and semi-quantitative estimation of diphosgene and triphosgene, using a filter paper embedded with dimethylbarbituric acid and poly(4-vinylpyridine). Addition of a test solution to the paper causes a color change from white to light blue at low concentrations and to pink at higher concentrations of triphosgene. The test strip is useful for quick on-site detection of triphosgene and diphosgene in reaction mixtures. The test is easy to perform and provides clear signal readouts indicative of the presence of phosgene precursors. The utility of this method was demonstrated by the qualitative determination of residual triphosgene during the production of poly(bisphenol-A carbonate).