Universidad de Alicante

Simultaneous determination of anion and cation content in water samples through ICP-AES

Posted by Universidad de AlicanteResponsive · Patents for licensing · Spain

Summary of the technology

The main innovation of the present system is the development of a single method allowing the sequential preparation and automatic quantification of ionic species in water samples employing a commercially available ICP-AES.

Description of the technology

A single system able to simultaneously provide information on the of anion and cation contents in water samples through ICP-AES has been developed in the polymers and nanomaterials research group of the University of Alicante. Companies interested in the commercial and technical development of the system are sought.


The determination of the content of anions and cations to obtain the ionic balance in water samples is currently requiring the use of several, time consuming and sometimes expensive techniques. The polymers and nanomaterials research group of the University of Alicante has developed a single and unique system providing simultaneously this kind of information. The system has three vessels containing a first one for the sample (1, Figure 1), a second one for a silver nitrate solution (2, Figure 1) and a third one with a nitric acid diluted solution (3, Figure 1). Three PTFE capillaries (4-6, Figure 1) and two ‘t-unions’ (8-9, Figure 1) are also employed. The setup also has a peristaltic pump (7, Figure 1), a capillary reactor (10, Figure 1), a filter (12, Figure 1), a valve (11, Figure 1) and a liquid – gas phase separation system (13, Figure 1) that is only employed to carry out the analysis of samples with a high content of organic matter. The analysis procedure is carried out in the following steps: a) Mixing: The peristaltic pump aspirates both sample and silver nitrate at a constant flow rate. Both streams mix together by means of a tee shaped unión. Then, the resulting mixture combined with the nitric acid solution by using a second tee union. b) Reaction: The final solution goes through a capillary reactor where chemical reactions take place. c) Separation: A filter and/or a gas – phase separator was employed depending on the sample organic matter content. The mixture is forced to pass through a filter. For those samples having high dissolved organic compounds the gas – liquid phase separation system is employed. d) Measurement: The mixture reaches the ICP-AES spectrometer where the emission intensity of each of the elements of interest is taken at characteristic wavelengths The present system is easy-to-automatize through the use of a robotized arm and a carrousel containing the samples. To achieve this an autosampler commonly employed to carry out ICP-AES routine analysis can be used.

Main advantages of its use

  • Analysis time is drastically shortened thus leading to an increase in the sample throughput.
  • Easy-to-atomate system.
  • Not only water samples but also soils and blood samples, among others, can be analized.
  • Only an instrument (ICP-AES) instead of three different methods (ICP-AES, acid-base titration and ion chromatography) is required to determine anions and cations.


  • Analysis, management and water and waste treatment
  • Chemical analysis
  • Chemical industry

Additional information (attached documents)

Additional information (attached documents)

Related keywords

  • Wastewater Recycling
  • Water treatment equipment and waste disposal systems
  • Water, sewerage, chemical and solid waste treatment plants
  • Other pollution and recycling related
  • cation contents in water
  • anion contents in water
  • water analysis
  • water sample
  • waste treatment
  • Chemical analysis
  • wastewater

About Universidad de Alicante

Research & Technology Organization from Spain

As one of the largest universities of Spain, Universidad de Alicante has a rich history of innovation. Our main objective is to transfer the technology that our research teams are developing to the industries and companies which are able to take profit from them. R & D & Innovation results and know-how are offered in the domains of Chemistry, Materials, Environment, IT, Building and other applied subjects.

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