Continuous and Inexpensive Monitoring of Nonpurgeable Organic Carbon by Coupling High-Efficiency Photo-oxidation Vapor Generation with Miniaturized Point-Discharge Optical Emission Spectrometry

Currently, no applicable analyzers are available to accomplish online continuous monitoring of organic pollution, which is one of the most important factors contributing to water shortages around the world, particularly in developing countries. In this work, a sensitive, miniaturized, inexpensive, and online nonpurgeable organic carbon (NPOC) analysis system was developed for continuous monitoring of such organic pollution. This system consists of a specially designed high-efficiency UV photo-oxidation vapor generation (HE-POVG) reactor and a miniaturized, low-power (7 W) point-discharge microplasma optical emission spectrometer (PD-OES). Organics present in sample or standard solutions are pumped to the HE-POVG and efficiently converted into CO2, which is separated and further transported to the PD-OES for NPOC analysis via highly sensitive detection of carbon atomic emission at 193.0 nm. Under optimal conditions, a limit of detection of 0.05 mg·L–1 (as C) is obtained, with precision better than 5.0% (relative standard deviation) at 5 mg·L–1. This system overcomes many shortcomings associated with conventional chemical oxygen demand or total organic carbon analyzers such as long analysis time, use of expensive and toxic chemicals, production of secondary toxic waste, requirement of large, power consuming and expensive instrumentation and difficulties implementing continuous online monitoring. The system was successfully applied to sensitive and accurate determination of NPOC in various water samples and for continuous monitoring of such organic pollution in tap water.