Enhancing the total organic carbon measurement efficiency for water samples containing suspended solids using alkaline and ultrasonic pretreatment methods

Hyun-Sang Shin , Han-Saem Lee , Jin Hur


Received September 10, 2019,Revised , Accepted November 01, 2019, Available online December 09, 2019

Volume 32,2020,Pages 20-28

In this study, we investigated the effect of sample pretreatments (ultrasonication and alkaline extraction) on total organic carbon (TOC) measurements for water samples containing suspended solids (SS) of four different origins (algae, soil, sewage sludge, and leaf litter) to more clearly assess the impact of particulate organic carbon (POC) in water. The effects each of ultrasonication (power, pulse, etc.) and alkaline extraction condition (concentration, time, etc.) on the TOC recovery and precision were investigated, and the results were compared with those of a new sample pretreatment method combining both methods. Alkaline treatment (0.01 mol/L NaOH) showed higher precision than ultrasonication (100/5 on/off pulse), and notably, the differences among the measured TOC values in samples of different origins were also further reduced in the alkaline treatment. This suggests that the ultrasonic pretreatment results can be mainly attributed to the increase in POC recovery through particle size reduction, whereas the alkaline treatment results are achieved through the enhancement of POC solubilization. It is also particularly noteworthy that a higher TOC recovery of 87.6% ± 7.4% with a higher precision of 8.4% could be obtained using the combined method, compared to each treatment (ultrasonic: TOC recovery 34.7%, relative standard deviation 63.1%; alkaline: 49.6% and 23.0%, respectively). Thus, simultaneous pretreatment with ultrasonication and alkaline extraction is expected to increase the oxidation rate of organic matter and the homogeneity of the samples, minimizing the loss of POC measurement values, and thereby improving the reliability of the TOC measurements of water samples containing SS.

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