Analytical Methods

The ASU employs an large array of different analytical methods. We also develop analytical methodology for new tests or specific research needs. We often do this in conjunction with assisting in the development research projects in areas other than analytical chemistry. Some of the methods we use are detailed below:

  • Ammonia: by reaction with sodium phenoxide. Analysis using an autoanalyzer.
  • Arsenic, Antimony and Selenium by atomic absorption: hydride generation by reaction with sodium borohydride and AA analysis of the gaseous metal hydride.
  • BTEX (benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene and xylenes): purge and trap separation with subsequent GC/FID or GC/MS analysis
  • Chloride in concrete: dissolution in water or acid with titration to an endpoint using a chloride specific ion electrode.
  • Chloride or fluoride: analysis by ion chromatography or specific ion electrode.
  • Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD): reaction with sulfuric acid/mercuric salt followed by absorbance measurement.
  • Conductivity: concentration of total ions using a conductivity meter.
  • Cyanide: colorimetric determination by reaction with chloramine-T followed by reaction with barbituric and isonicotinic acids. This process uses an autoanalyzer. Alternatively, cyanide can be determined using an ion specific electrode.
  • Glycols: by GC/FID or FTIR.
  • Hexavalent Chromium: reaction of Cr(VI) with diphenylcarbohydrazide to form a Cr complex which is determined spectrophotometrically.
  • Loss on ignition: procedure using a muffle furnace. Used to calculate % organic matter.
  • Leachates: Regulation 558 for determining whether a sample is acceptable at a landfill site or is classified as a hazardous substance. Metals by AA or ICP; semivolatiles and volatiles by GC/MS and pesticides by GC/ECD.
  • Nitrate and nitrite: by ion chromatography (IC) or by autoanalyzer.
  • Metals by AA or ICP: nitric/hydrochloric acid digestion, metal volatilization by flame or plasma followed by spectrophotometric analysis.
  • Metals by XRF or NAA: generally minimal sample preparation required.
  • Oil Mist: spectrophotometric determination of oil dispersed in carbon tetrachloride.
  • Oil and Grease: soxhlet extraction followed by gravimetric analysis.
  • PCBs or pesticides in oil, water, plants, tissue or soil: separation into an organic solvent using a soxhlet extractor or shaking in an extraction vessel followed by cleanup and GC/ECD analysis.
  • Phenols: colorimetric determination by reaction with 4-aminoantipyrine in a tartrate-borax buffer to form a antipyrine dye. This method utilizes an autoanalyzer, or phosphorus can be determined by ICP.
  • Phosphorus content: colorimetric determination by reaction with ammonium molybdate followed by a reduction reaction using ascorbic acid to form a blue molybdate complex. This method utilizes an autoanalyzer.
  • Sulfate: by ion chromatography (IC)
  • Total petroleum hydrocarbon (TPH): sonication with hexane as extractant followed by GC/FID analysis. CCME TPH separation into 4 fractions for the Canada wide standard.
  • Total suspended and disolved solids (TSS/TDS): glass fibre filtration and gravimetric analysis.

The methods listed above are only a small selection of what the ASU has to offer. The extensive instrumentation owned by the ASU and other equipment available to us at the University enables us to tailor many of our methods to meet specific client demands and develop new ones. Please see the contact section to inquire about other analytical requirements.