I'm looking for a lab experiment design that shows how to measure the presence of semi-volatile solids in water (and not sludge or soil or solids). All I have found so far are chromotography/mass spectometry methods. Are there any ‘less advanced’ methods? My professor says there are, but I can’t find them.

Does anybody here know of such methods, or where I should start looking for them?

  • $\begingroup$ Can you elaborate on what "semi-volatile solids" are or what you expect to be in the sample? Do you need qualitative data or quantitative? Elemental composition, mineral structure? $\endgroup$ – tobias47n9e Apr 30 '14 at 18:28
  • $\begingroup$ @Spießbürger From the EPA - a semivolatile organic compound is an organic compound which has a boiling point higher than water and which may vaporize when exposed to temperatures above room temperature. Semivolatile organic compounds include phenols and polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) (source) Each of the experimental methods referred to on the website intend use of gas chromotography/mass spectrometer devices. $\endgroup$ – Shekhynah Apr 30 '14 at 21:56
  • $\begingroup$ @Spießbürger So, my question again, is would anyone know of any other methods? Possibly similar to gravimetric methods for fixed and volatile solids. I am looking to quantify trace levels in order to test for contamination. $\endgroup$ – Shekhynah Apr 30 '14 at 21:56

It seems to me you should draft an analytical procedure first in which you include the compounds (or compound-groups) you want to identify (qualitative) and what detection limits you need. Then get a list of methods or instruments you have access to. Then see which methods / instruments fulfil your analytical requirements. You might need to make aliquots and use two or more methods to cover all the requirements.

Complexity is usually the last thing to worry about, because you have to use what instruments you have, and often times the analytical requirements are only fulfilled by one instrument. The methods mentioned on the page you linked also guarantee that your measurements will be comparable to other peoples measurements.

Look for advice in books and lecture notes about "analytical chemistry" and "instrumental analytics". Personally I think infrared spectroscopy is pretty simple, but I don't know what your detection limit requirements are ("trace level" is very vague), and depending on your samples there might be a lot of overlap from the different organics (It also depends on how well you have to distinguish them).


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