Characterization of Natural Organic Material

Natural Organic Material (NOM) consist of a diverse mixture of organic substances varying in color, structure and reactivity. NOM can play an important role in the production of drinking water. For example, NOM can contaminate membranes or it can have a negative influence on the biological stability of drinking water during the distribution process.

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Most of the NOM consist of humic acids. However, the aforementioned effects are often determined by other small fractions. Therefore, it is very important to obtain a further characterization of NOM.

Since 2006, Het Waterlaboratorium invested in an instrument for NOM, developed by DOC-Labor. The NOM is being separated by size chromatographically, and detected with an online DOC-measurement. This consist of a reactor in which a very thin film of eluent is formed, which then is irradiated with UV-light. The organic material present, is directly converted into carbon dioxide, which then is measured with an infrared detector. In one chromatogram, six various fractions can be distinguished from a concentration of 0,2 mg carbon/L.

This method is mainly used for investigation of new treatment steps, especially in pilot installations. Besides, this method is proven to be suitable for research into contamination of membranes.