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Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty of Science
December 21, 2014

Canadian Excellence

John Kominar


email: John Kominar
phone: 519 884-1970


  • High Resolution Gas Chromatography (HRGC): Capillary Column Development. Analytical Methods Development.
  • Environmental Chemistry: Methods Development. Sampling and Testing local areas.

Analytical Chemistry involves the separation and analysis of chemical substances to determine both what is present in a sample, and how much. As advances and refinements are made in instrumentation our ability to detect and measure smaller and smaller quantities of a specific substance continually increases. This aspect of analytical chemistry is very important, especially in environmental analyses, where the presence of extremely small amounts of substances like heavy metals, mercury, PCBs, Dioxins, and other organic substances can be very harmful to human health and safety. Most of us are aware that a multitude of pollutants may endanger our land, water, and air. These materials have not just suddenly appeared in the last few years. Many of them have been around for a long time, but in such small amounts that it is not until recently that we have been able to separate, detect, and measure them quantitatively.

My research interests in analytical and environmental chemistry are in two areas, the development of high resolution chromatographic columns and analytical methods, and the application of analytical techniques such as chromatography and atomic absorption spectroscopy in analyzing samples of environmental interest.

In High Resolution Capillary Column Gas Chromatography my research involves the development of instrumentation, and methods to provide, better, faster, and more accurate determination of trace amounts of substances in chemically complex mixtures. Capillary column gas chromatography is especially effective in separating and measuring small amounts of complex organic mixtures such as are often present in environmental samples. The group of compounds we call PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls ) for instance is a mixture of 209 closely related chemical compounds. It is important to be able not only to measure the total amount of PCB present but also the amount of each PCB congener, since some are hundreds or even thousands of times more toxic than others. The same is true for other compounds such as the dioxins. One of these dioxins, 2,3,7,8 TCDD is the most toxic chemical known to man. Developing instrumentation and methods to be able to separate, identify, and quantify trace amounts of such materials has obvious benefits and is the impetus for my work in this area.

In the application of analytical chemistry for environmental analysis we are using the techniques of chromatography, atomic absorption spectroscopy and others to profile and analyze for the presence of potentially dangerous or harmful materials in our local area. Some of these projects have been carried out in collaboration with faculty in the Geography Department.

Previous 490 Theses
"Thermodynamic Modelling of Acid Sulfate Soil Contributions to a High Arctic Lake." Pier Paul Overduin (1993).
"Spatial and Horizontal Distribution of Heavy Metals in Laurel Creek Sediment Utilizing Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy." Brian Smida (1993).
"A Comparison of The Chemical Composition of Two Lakes (Hofstetter Lake and Little Turnbull Lake)." Carl W. Carter (1981).

Related Literature Publications
"The Preparation and Testing of a Fused-Silica Gas Chromatopgraphy Capillary Column." R.John Kominar. Journal of Chemical Education, (1991), 68,A24.
"Single Step End Seal and Retention Gap Procedure for Preparation of Fused Silica Capillary Columns." R.J. Kominar, W.C. Koebel. Journal of High Resolution Chromatography, (1989), 12, 255.
"Packed Columns vs. Wall coated Open Tubular Columns in Quantitative Analyses of Polychlorinated Biphenyls." R.J. Kominar, F.I. Onuska, and K.A. Terry. Journal of High Resolution Chromatography & Chromatography Communications, (1985), 8, 585.