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The analysis of the inorganic components is roughly divided in two parts: most cations are routinely measured with inductively coupled plasma coupled to an optical emission spectrometer (ICP-OES), whereas mainly anionic nutrients are quantified with a segmented flow analyser (AA). With these analysers the nutrients are routinely measured in aqueous samples, such as surface water and seawater, and in soil extracts. The two AA machines available (produced by Skalar, Breda, the Netherlands) are adapted to their specific purpose.
Skalar. Photo: Jan van Arkel


The first machine is a general-use analyser. It can measure (NO3+NO2), NO2, NH4, total dissolved N, PO4, SO4, and Cl. For most anions, the measurement range falls within 10 to 2000 µmol/l, whereas the measurement range is lower for PO4 (0.2 to 16 µmol/l) and NO2 (2 to 70 µmol/l). The substrate is usually fresh water, but with some adaptations BaCl2- and K2SO4 extracts, and saline samples can be analysed.

Skalar. Photo: Jan van Arkel

Our second and newer auto-analyser is dedicated to low concentrations of (NO3+NO2), NO2, NH4 and PO4. The measurement range of PO4 and NO2 is 0,1 to 1,0 µmol/l, for (NO3+NO2) it is 1 to 20 µmol/l and NH4 is quantified between 0.5 to 7 µmol/l. This analyser is fitted with detector-correction lines which allows the analysis of marine water samples. Out of range-samples can be diluted automatically.

Inductively Coupled Plasma (ICP). Photo: IBED

Inductively Coupled Plasma (ICP) and Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy (AAS)

For the analysis of trace elements and heavy metals in acid digested soils or liquid samples.

AAS. Photo: Jan van Arkel
Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy (AAS). Photo: Jan van Arkel

Acid digestion of samples are typically performed with HNO3/ HCl with a microwave (Paar Physica Multiwave) or with HF/H2SO4 of soil or organic material.

  • Technical specifications

    Perkin Elmer Optima 8000 Optical Emission Spectrometer with Perkin Elmer S10 autosampler (ICP-OES) and Perkin Elmer AAnalyst 400 (AAS) (Singapore).

Contact information

Please contact us for more information:

Dr. E. (Eva) de Rijke

Faculty of Science

Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics