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Analytical Capabilities

R&D staff

The Applied Research and Development Center has a wide range of analytical capabilities and equipment, including the following:

  • ABSCIEX QTRAP 6500 liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry system
  • Two ABSCIEX QTRAP 4000 liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry systems
  • ABSCIEX API 4000 liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry system
    Liquid Chromatography-Tandem Mass Spectrometry – We currently use four liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) systems to determine the occurrence and fate of targeted analytes such as pharmaceuticals, personal care products, perfluorinated compounds, and other relatively polar compounds which have been identified in the environment. These systems are comprised of a liquid chromatograph (LC), an autosampler and a triple quadrupole mass spectrometer (MS/MS). We use Agilent 1100/1200 LC stacks and CTC Analytics HTC Pal autosamplers. Our mass spectrometers are a SCIEX 6500 QTRAP® triple quadrupole, two SCIEX 4000 QTRAP® triple quadrupole linear ion traps, and a SCIEX API 4000™ triple quadrupole.
  • Agilent 6520A quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometer
    To study dissolved organic matter, the source of most disinfection byproducts, and transformation products of emerging contaminants, we employ an Agilent 6520 QTOF system. This instrument excels at identifying non-targeted compounds via accurate mass measurements.
  • Agilent 7000c gas chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry system with LTM
  • Two Varian 4000 gas chromatography-ion trap mass spectrometers
    For compounds that can be vaporized without decomposition, including many non-polar compounds, we use gas chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (GC-MS/MS). Typical analytes include nitrosamines, MIB/geosmin, and other disinfection by-products. For this purpose, we possess an Agilent 7000C GC-MS triple quadrupole system and two Varian 4000 ion trap GC-MS systems.
  • Perkin Elmer Nexion 300S inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometer
    Hexavalent chromium, arsenic, selenium and other metals are analyzed by inductively coupled plasma-mass specomtetry (ICP-MS). This instrument also has the capability of quantifying individual engineered nanoparticles of silver and titanium which have been shown to be present in water supplies. We hold a Perkin Elmer 350S ICP-MS for these analyses. In addition, we can couple this technique with an ion chromatography system (Dionex ICS 3000) to study metallic complexes with natural organic matter and various oxyhalides.
  • ASPEX scanning electron microscope/electron dispersive x-ray spectrometer
    For micro-scale visualization and elemental analysis of surfaces and their properties, as well as nanoparticle characterization, we use an FEI Aspex Explorer SEM/EDX.
  • Spark-Holland Symbiosis on-line solid phase extraction system
    For more complex matrices like wastewater where extremely high sensitivity is not required, we use a Spark-Holland Symbiosis on-line solid phase extraction system. This allows the rapid detection of emerging contaminants and requires very little sample for analysis.
  • Seven Dionex/Thermo Autotrace automated solid phase extraction units
    Due to extremely low levels of most emerging contaminants in the environment, we use solid phase extraction to concentrate the contaminants to detectable levels. We have seven Dionex Autotrace™ systems in place that allow automated solid phase extraction to increase quality and productivity.
  • Horiba Aqualog spectrofluorometer
  • Agilent LC-size exclusion chromatography-diode array detector-fluorescence detector-fraction collector system
  • Antek 8060 On-line nitrogen detector
  • Dionex/Thermo charged aerosol detector
  • Shimadzu TOC/TN detector
  • Two PE Lambda 45 UV/VIS spectrometers
    Dissolved organic matter (DOM) is a heterogeneous group of substances that enters waterways via the natural decay of plants and microorganisms and/or wastewater effluents. DOM is important for our drinking water because most disinfection byproducts are formed from DOM during our oxidative treatment processes. We have a number of different instruments designed to study DOM, including a Horiba Aqualog spectrofluorometer, an Agilent size exclusion chromatography system with diode array and fluorescence detectors, an Antek on-line nitrogen detector, a Dionex/Thermo charged aerosol detector, a Shimadzu TOC/TN detector and two PE Lambda 45 UV/Vis spectrometers.
  • Geo Physics chemiluminescence detector
    To determine total nitosamines, we use a Geo Physics chemiluminescence detector. Nitrosamines are a class of contaminants that have been shown to be carcinogenic and are under consideration for regulation in drinking water by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. With this method, nitrosamines are converted to NO gas which is then analyzed by the chemiluminscence detector.
  • Freeze Dryer (Labconco FreeZone 12 Plus)
    Some samples require complete sublimation of the water matrix to ready them for extraction. Our Labconco FreeZone 12 Plus freeze dryer performs this task.
  • Dionex/Thermo accelerated solvent extraction device
    Although most of our work is related to aqueous samples, we also have the capability to handle solid samples such as sediments and animal tissues. We have a Dionex/Thermo accelerated solvent extraction device to extract and concentrate contaminants in solid matrices.
  • Dionex/Thermo ICS 3000 ion chromatography system
    We use a Dionex/Thermo ISC 3000 ion chromatography system to study inorganic anions and cations. These include substances such as perchlorate and bromate which are relevant to Southern Nevada’s drinking water supply.
  • BioTek Powerwave 340 microplate spectrophotometer
    We use a Biotek Powerwave spectrophotometer to read plates related to the detection of contaminants using UV/Vis light. This instrument can be used to study the level of estrogenicity in a water sample.
  • UV VIS Spectrophotometer with RFID Technology (Hach DR 6000) and Laboratory Turbidimeter (Hach 2100N)
    We use these Hach instruments for common testing methods.
  • High Temperature Vacuum Tube Furnace (MTI GSL-1100)
    We use the MTI GSL-1100 furnace to produce novel adsorbents and the thermal regeneration of exhausted adsorption media.
  • Integrated On-line Toxicity Monitoring System (Microloan iTOXcontrol)
    We use the TOXcontrol online toxicity monitoring system for the real-time detection of chemical threats in our drinking water sources. The system relies on a bacteria Vibrio fischeri bioassay to monitor chemical hazards.
  • Two On-line portable Fluorimeters (STS SMF 4)
    We use the STS SMF4 fluorimeters in the field to detect organic pollution in the water and online monitoring performance for treatment technology performance.
  • Digital flow cytometer
    We use the FlowCAM, which is capable of rapidly analyzing particles in water with flow cytometry, microscopy, and fluorescence detection.