Analytical methods for water and materials research

Chemical laboratory

KWR’s chemical laboratory conducts research into micropollutants present in water and their impact on water quality. Apart from existing analytical methods, we also apply new, self-developed methods. Broad screening and mass spectrometry provide us with more information about emerging contaminants. We also analyse synthetic products that come into contact with water.

Analysing chemical water quality

We analyse the organic and inorganic components that can be present in different types of water. Our experts conduct the following analyses:

  • Organic analyses to detect micropollutants in various types of water, with detection limits in the order of magnitude of nanograms to micrograms.
  • Inorganic analyses using ion chromatography, spectrophotometry, ICP-MS and various wet-chemical techniques.
  • Organoleptic determination of taste and odour through panel testing.

We continually develop new test methods and are also equipped to respond to emergencies, and conduct rapid analyses to assess the possible dangers of water contamination.

Analysis of emerging contaminants through broad screening and mass spectrometry

Our analyses are often directed at ‘target substances’: known contaminants that can occur in water. But other compounds may be present that we are not (yet) familiar with. For this reason, we develop ‘broad screening’ techniques, which detect a broad range of known and unknown compounds in a single process. We use the following techniques for this: GC-MS, LC-UV-MS, Orbitrap technology (accurate mass spectrometry) and NMR.
Mass spectrometry enables the detection of extremely small differences in mass. We use the technique to discover how certain compounds are formed in water, for example, through carbon or nitrogen labelling. Once we know how compounds are formed, we can say more about possible risks and prevention.

Materials research

Besides analysing water, our chemical laboratory also analyses synthetic products, such as pipe materials, which come into contact with water. We establish the products’ quality by determining the oxygen diffusion through synthetic pipes, measuring the cross-link content of the materials used, and identifying the inorganic products migrating from synthetic materials. Among the uses of this research is the establishment of requirements and test methods for normalisation purposes.