SOQ-33806 Environmental Analytical Techniques


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Group work6
Course coordinator(s)dr. L Weng
Lecturer(s)dr. TA van Beek
dr. L Weng
prof. dr. RNJ Comans
ing. PR Nobels
dr. ing. HB Albada
dr. ir. LCPM de Smet
Examiner(s)dr. L Weng

Language of instruction:


Assumed knowledge on:

PCC-12303 General Chemistry I and PCC-12403 General Chemistry 2 or comparable.

Continuation courses:

Thesis research involving chemical analysis of natural materials.


The lectures give an introduction into analytical chemistry with emphasis on spectrometry to measure inorganic coumpounds, structure elucidation and chromatography of organic compounds, organic carbon (humus) fractionation and free ion analysis using electrodes and the Donnan membrane technique (DMT). Selection of a particular method is exemplified by real-world problems in air, soil and water chemistry, environmental chemistry, environmental technology, etc. (case-study).
Tutorials related to the lecture topics help improving insight by answering questions and solving assignments (simple calculations).
In the practical students determine different chemical forms of compounds (e.g. heavy metals, benzene) in groundwater, surface water, soil, and plant material with a variety of analytical techniques, such as: inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES), mass spectrometry (MS), gas chromatography and high pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC). The structure of unknown organic constituents is elucidated by means of mass spectroscopy (MS) and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR). Free ions are analysed using specific metallic electrodes and with a specific separation method (DMT). Organic material is fractionated to determine humic and fulvic acid concentrations using TOC analysis (Total Organic Carbon). The various methods available are compared with respect to their field of application, limits of detection, selectivity, accuracy, precision, throughput and robustness.
Groups of students (3-4) will work on a case-study reflecting real-life problems. The group has to analyse the problem situation regarding chemical analytical aspects, formulate a proposal for further research and specify the chemical analytical techniques to be used.

Learning outcomes:

After completion of the course students are able to:
- demonstrate insight into how to tackle practical analytical chemical problems;
- demonstrate understanding of the basic theory and relevant parameters in analytical chemistry;
- apply methods of instrumental chemical analysis to natural materials and (eco)systems;
- demonstrate awareness of the limitations of the various methods;
- report about experimental chemical analytical results and draw correct conclusions;
- discuss chemical analytical aspects relevant for the selection of proper analytical techniques for real-life problem situations.


- attend the introductory and topic specific lectures;
- read and study the reader, the lecture presentations and the the tutorial assignments;
- carry out different practical experiments and report results;
- analyse a real-life problem in analytical chemistry to indicate possible chemical analytical solutions for the analysis of the system composition (case-study) in a group with 3-4 students; write a brief report (research proposal) and give a short oral presentation;
- exam preparation and 'open book' exam.


lectures and tutorials: written open-book exam (75%);
- practicals: pass/fail;
- case-study: report + oral presentation (25%);
A minimum score of 5.5 is required for each part.
Successful partial interim examinations remain valid for a period of 5 years.


Reader and Supplement (including practical manuals) Environmental Analytical Techniques.

Restricted Optional for: MEEEarth and EnvironmentMScC: Biology and Chemistry of Soil and Water3WD
MESEnvironmental SciencesMSc3WD