CHN(O)S elemental analysis

CHN(O)S elemental analysis is a cost-effective method for determining carbon (C), hydrogen (H), nitrogen (N), sulfur (S) and oxygen (O) contents in organic and inorganic samples. The method is based on complete combustion of the sample and it can detect even small elemental quantities. Measurements can be done to solid, liquid, volatile and viscous substances. Sample size can be relatively small.

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What is CHN(O)S elemental analysis?

The CHN(O)S elemental analysis is an analytical tool that relies on the dynamic flash combustion based on the Dumas method. It is used to determine the contents of carbon (C), hydrogen (H), nitrogen (N), sulfur (S) and oxygen (O). CHN(O)S analysis can give quantitative or qualitative results. Qualitative analysis tells which elements are found in the sample and quantitative analysis tells how much of each element is present. Sample size can be relatively small without loss of accuracy.

How does CHN(O)S analysis work?

The determination of the elements is done indirectly from combustion products. The sample is combusted at high temperature in a pure oxygen environment to allow complete reaction of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and sulfur to their combustion products (CO2, H2O, N2 and SO2). Also carrier gas, typically helium, is added.

After the combustion, the gas mixture goes through copper, which removes the excess oxygen and reduces the nitrogen oxides to elemental nitrogen. Absorbent traps are used to collect impurities allowing only CO2, N2, H2O and SO2 to be directed to the detector.

The detection of the gas components in the final gas mixture can be done in different ways depending on the required outcome. Gas chromatography can be used to separate the components before detecting the individual gases with a thermal conductivity detector or using a series of separate infrared and thermal conductivity cells to identify components in the gas. The contents of each element are then calculated by comparing the results from the measurements to theoretical values and finally calculating the corresponding element contents as mass percentages of the sample.

Because of the combustion, C, H, N, S elements are converted to CO2, H2O, N2 and SO2 and the amount of each gas is recorded. The determination is done indirectly from gas measurements by using the ideal gas law.

Oxygen is also determined indirectly from the sample. Differently to other elements, oxygen is pyrolyzed by hydrogen-helium (H2–He) gas mixture. After combustion all oxygen-containing products are converted to carbon monoxide with the catalysts and similar indirect elemental determination is done.

Need a CHN(O)S analysis?

Measurlabs offers CHN(O)S analyses of high quality and affordable prices. If you have any questions about your sample or it’s suitability for the method, our experts are always happy to help. You can contact us through the form below or by emailing us at

Suitable sample matrices

  • CHN(O)S analysis can be performed on solid, liquid, volatile and highly viscous substances.
  • Biomass like wood pellets and other biofuels.
  • Organic heterogeneous materials like plastics and rubbers.
  • Pharmaceutical products.
  • Carbonate containing materials.
  • Pharmaceutical industry investigates organic compound compositions and purity of the products.

Ideal uses of CHN(O)S

  • CHN(O)S is used to analyse the amounts of Carbon, Hydrogen, Nitrogen, Sulfur and Oxygen.
  • It can be used to determine overall protein amounts in foods.
  • Method is used by biofuel industries for composition analysis.
  • CHN(O)S is used as a safety control tool for industrial wastewaters.
  • Pharmaceutical industry investigates organic compound compositions and purity of the products.

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Frequently asked questions

What is CHNOS commonly used for?

The CHNOS is an optimal analytical method for gas, polymer and petrochemical industries.  

It is used for biofuel testing and quality confirmation

There are many users for CHNOS analysis. The food industry uses it for protein analysis and quality control.

The CHNSO method is capable of detecting sulfur in the sample.

What are the limitations of CHNOS ?

Although the results are reliable, CHNOS does not give detailed structure information, such as functional groups.

What kind of samples can be analyzed with CHNOS?

Samples can be in the form of solid, liquid, volatile or viscous substances.

What is Measurlabs?

Measurlabs offers a variety of laboratory analyses for product developers and quality managers. We perform some of the analyses in our own lab, but mostly we outsource them to carefully selected partner laboratories. This way we can send each sample to the lab that is best suited for the purpose, and offer high-quality analyses with more than a thousand different methods to our clients.

How does the service work?

When you contact us through our contact form or by email, one of our specialists will take ownership of your case and answer your query. You get an offer with all the necessary details about the analysis, and can send your samples to the indicated address. We will then take care of sending your samples to the correct laboratories and write a clear report on the results for you.

How do I send my samples?

Samples are usually delivered to our laboratory via courier. Contact us for further details before sending samples.

Affordable analyses for the content of C, H, N, S and O. CHN(O)S analysis can be done to solid, liquid, volatile and viscous substances. Results from the CHNOS elemental analysis can be received rapidly. Reliable results from small sample sizes.