An experimental laboratory reactor for quantitative kinetic studies of disinfection byproduct formation using membrane inlet mass spectrometry

Freja Troj Larsen, James Neill McPherson, Christine Joy McKenzie, Frants Roager Lauritsen

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The type and quantity of environmentally problematic disinfection byproducts (DBPs) produced during chlorination of water depend on the natural organic matter and organic contaminants that raw water contains, and on the operational conditions of the drinking water treatment process. There is a need for a fast and quantitative method that determines which DBPs are produced and monitors the chemical dynamics during a drinking water treatment.

A small experimental chemical reactor (50 mL) was mounted directly onto the membrane inlet interface of a membrane inlet mass spectrometer (MIMS). In this setup, the membrane was the only separation between the reaction mixture in the chemical reactor and the open ion source of the mass spectrometer 2 cm away. Water samples to be chlorinated were placed in the reactor and the chlorination reaction was initiated by injection of hypochlorite. The formation of intermediates and products was monitored using either full-scan mass spectra or selected ion monitoring of relevant ions.

An algorithm for analyte quantification was successfully developed for analysis of the complex mixtures of phenol (a model for waterborne organic compounds), chlorinated intermediates and trihalomethane products which simultaneously pass the membrane into the mass spectrometer. The algorithm is based upon the combined use of standard addition and an internal standard, and all analytes could be quantified at nanomolar concentrations corresponding to realistic water treatment conditions. Experiments carried out in the temperature range 15–60°C showed that the reaction dynamics change with operational parameters, for example in tap versus deionized water.

We have successfully shown that an experimental laboratory reactor directly interfaced with a MIMS can be used for quantitative monitoring of the chemical dynamics during a water treatment. This technique could provide rapid assistance in the optimization of operating parameters for minimizing DBP production.
TidsskriftRapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry
Udgave nummer16
Sider (fra-til)e9339
Antal sider10
StatusUdgivet - 30. aug. 2022


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