Total Organic Carbon (TOC) is a rapid method that analyzes for organic carbon and expresses the result as the amount of carbon found. It is a non-specific method unable to distinguish between various organic species and only indicates that organic carbon compounds are present. Organic carbon analyzers operate by the determination of the amount of total carbon present in a sample aliquot. Total carbon consists of inorganic and organic carbon. The inorganic carbon, present as carbonate or bicarbonate ions, must be removed or quantified prior to the analysis of organic carbon. Once the inorganic carbon is removed, subsequent analysis of the sample aliquot assumes that all carbon remaining is organic.
Standard Methods 5310B describes the procedure and requirements for analysis by high-temperature catalytic oxidation (HTCO) with non-dispersive infrared (NDIR) detection. This application note describes the use of the TOC-L total organic carbon analyzer for Standard Methods 5310B. Data show how the TOC-L, with a 680 °C furnace and platinum catalyst, utilizes high-temperature catalytic oxidation to completely oxidize organic carbon in both drinking water and wastewater.