Determination of oil and grease in water with a mid-infrared spectrometer

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Courtesy of PerkinElmer, Inc.

The concentration of dispersed oil and grease (OG) is an important parameter for water quality and safety. OG in water can cause surface films and shoreline deposits leading to environmental degradation, and can induce human health risks when discharged in surface or ground waters. Additionally, OG may interfere with aerobic and anaerobic biological processes and lead to decreased wastewater treatment efficiency. Regulatory bodies worldwide set limits in order to control the amount of OG entering natural bodies of water or reservoirs through industrial discharges, and also to limit the amount present in drinking water.

OG in water is commonly determined by extraction into a non-polar, hydrocarbonfree solvent followed by measurement of the infrared absorption spectrum of the extract. The absorption between 3000 and 2900 cm-1 by C-H groups in the OG is correlated to the concentration of OG. There are several standard test protocols based around this methodology,1–4 most commonly using 1,1,2-trichloro-1,2,2-trifluoroethane (CFC-113) or tetrachloromethane. However, these solvents are known ozone-depleting compounds, and under the Montreal Protocol, the use of CFC-113 was phased out by 1996 and the use of tetrachloromethane will become illegal in 2010.

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