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Water, water, everywhere November 6, 2009

Posted by fetzthechemist in Uncategorized.

I am in the midst of putting together a short course on water analysis. Over the years, I did different areas of this field, so a lot of the assembling is refreshing and gathering details. Some areas in water analysis are old old-school, wet chemical methods developed fifty or more years ago. A lot of methods for trace metals, cations, and anions based on precipitation, colorimetry, titrations with redox or pH indicators. Luckily, I actually did a moderate amount of those things by choice. My research advisor had gone through grad school and his early career was in that era, so he taught a lot of that in his classes. I think much of that science has disappeared or is only thought of as freshman-level lab stuff.

Another interesting aspect is that water can be a horrendous matrix if humic acids and such are in them (runoff and other waters). Humic acids are colored brown and absorb pretty much across the spectrum. They have some inherent fluorescence. There are many, many chemical functionalities. They smell bad when concentrated.

So the course is an interesting way to reconnect with a whole area of analytical chemistry – electrochemistry, flow injection, and some other arcane areas are part and parcel in water analysis.



1. psi*psi - November 6, 2009

Ah, water analysis. I’ll never forget the smell of raw sewage influent or the sight of a black sample from a coal slurry spill…

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