GE Analytical Instruments

Organics Monitoring: A Practical Guide


Courtesy of GE Analytical Instruments

Preventing product loss, lowering waste treatment costs, and reducing system maintenance and energy consumption through organics monitoring in the chemical, refining, food, and wastewater treatment industries.


Process water and steam condensate contamination includes organic, inorganic, and biological components. Sources of organic contamination include process chemicals, heat transfer fluids, and food products, as well as naturally occurring organics in surface and ground water. Excess dissolved organic material in water can potentially contaminate product, result in the formation of corrosive organic acids, cause upsets in biological wastewater treatment processes, or contribute to undesirable discharges to the environment.

Companies use a variety of monitoring tools to reduce product loss, prevent corrosion and equipment damage, and optimize treatment processes. The tools used for organics monitoring include oxygen demand testing, an indirect measurement of organic carbon (BOD or COD), and direct measurement of organic carbon (TOC) monitoring. The tools typically used for compliance reporting are the oxygen demand parameters (based on historical practice), however the time required for BOD testing (five days) or COD (hours) makes it impractical for the real-time decision making required for process control. TOC analyzers installed for discharge monitoring tend to include a correlation to the oxygen demand test and report in mg/L BOD or COD. When used for process control, output is typically in ppm C. TOC enables online, near real-time reporting of organic contamination.

Organics monitoring, using TOC, recently benefited from technology improvements and instrument design specifically developed to handle the challenging sample and environmental conditions in industrial applications.


Organics monitoring solutions exist for a range of industrial, municipal and ultrapure water applications.

Boiler Feed and Steam Condensate. Organic contamination in steam from products or heat transfer fluids can result in the formation of corrosive organic acids or fouling of boiler components. Traditional means of controlling corrosion include monitoring for pH and conductivity; these are “lagging” indicators which indicate the existence of corrosive conditions. Organic contamination is often the root cause or “leading” indicator that predicts the formation of corrosive conditions, enabling corrective action prior to shifts in pH or conductivity that can damage equipment. Monitoring organics in condensate in real time helps a facility safely reuse condensate and protect both product and critical production equipment.

Process Water. Water used in the production of industrial products such as hydrocarbons, chemicals and fibers, and in the production of foods and beverages, often contains organics either as ingredients in the produced product, or as a byproduct of a refining or cleaning process. Organics are commonly monitored as a process control parameter to prevent contamination, reduce carryover, and protect downstream treatment processes, or as a quality control parameter to ensure consistent product quality. These sample matrices often contain high levels of salts and particulate matter, which can overwhelm the sampling systems of traditional organics analyzers. Reliable monitoring of organics in these challenging matrices can yield valuable cost savings, but must include a sound sampling strategy to ensure analyzer uptime.

Wastewater. Physical, chemical, and biological treatment systems are used in a wide range of industrial applications to reduce organic contamination before reusing water or discharging it to the environment or municipal wastewater treatment system. Continuous monitoring helps optimize influent and effluent organic loading, reduces system maintenance, minimizes sludge generation, and potentially allows facilities to lower municipal wastewater discharge fees. Total organic carbon (TOC) analysis can also be easily correlated to more manual and time-consuming analytical methods such as chemical or biochemical oxygen demand (COD or BOD).

Drinking and Source Water. Regulations in many countries limit the amount of organics that can be present in finished drinking water, or require specific percent removal of organics during treatment, in order to limit the formation of carcinogenic compounds that form when disinfectants react with dissolved organics. The reaction of organics and disinfectants generate disinfection by-products (DBPs) such as trihalomethanes (THMs) and haloacetic acids (HAAs) that are regulated by various national regulatory bodies. Monitoring THMs and HAAs only indicates the magnitude of the problem after it has occurred, but does not provide operators timely information that enables treatment modifications to prevent formation. Online organics monitoring provides municipalities with actionable information regarding fluctuating organics levels in influent waters as well as organics concentrations in finished effluent, allowing utilities to blend or divert as necessary to reduce DBP formation, optimize coagulant dosing, and facilitate compliance.

Oil on Water. In certain applications, free oil or other hydrocarbons can be present as a sheen or layer on the water surface. Surface run-off, lubricating oils used in machinery, leaks from oil storage/pipelines, or effluent from oil-water separators all may result in the presence of an oil layer. GE’s oil-on-water technologies can not only immediately sense this layer, but also measure the thickness such that operators can intervene before unwanted discharges to the environment or other problems occur.


GE’s organics monitoring technologies include:

Sievers* InnovOx On-Line and Laboratory TOC Analyzers. The solution for real-time or periodic monitoring of low to high concentrations of TOC in challenging water matrices.

  • Total Organic Carbon measurements up to 50,000 ppm
  • Robust sample handling for reliable operation in challenging water matrices
  • Innovative supercritical water oxidation (SCWO) technology
  • Simple operation and maintenance

Sievers M9 and M5310 C On-Line and Laboratory TOC Analyzers. The industry references TOC for monitoring water from the cleanest ultrapure to drinking water quality.

  • Technology trusted by thousands of customers for water monitoring in the power, pharmaceutical, microelectronics, and drinking water industries
  • Available in online, portable, and laboratory form factors for true versatility
  • The fastest, broad-range TOC Analyzer available, including the four-second Turbo mode
  • The easiest TOC to setup, use, and maintain

Leakwise Oil-on-Water Monitor and Detection System. A unique technology proven to instantly detect and measure oil on water in sumps, oil/water separators, dykes, offshore terminals and the ocean.

  • Early warning and continuous online detection of hydrocarbons on water from 0.3 to 200 mm
  • Reliable detection without coating problems and false alarms
  • Simple automated operation and virtually maintenance-free


For over two decades, thousands of customers around the world have trusted GE’s organics monitoring technologies to solve challenging problems. We can help you optimize industrial process water quality and wastewater treatment to meet discharge permit levels while protecting expensive equipment, products, and processes from contamination. For additional information on how GE can help you better understand and monitor organics in your water or steam systems, contact us at

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