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A critical evaluation of tangential-flow ultrafiltration for trace metal studies in freshwater systems. 1. Organic carbon



A critical evaluation of tangential-flow ultrafiltration for trace metal studies in freshwater systems. 1. Organic carbon



Environmental Science and Technology 34(16): 3420-3427



The utility of tangential flow ultrafiltration (TFUF) for size fractionation of natural organic matter (NOM) in freshwater streams was investigated, focusing on characterization or elimination of potential artifacts. Spiral-wound polyethersulfone (PES) and regenerated cellulose (RCL) membranes with nominal molecular weight limits of 10 kilodalton (kDa) and 100 kDa were compared as part of a large project assessing the utility of large volume (>5 L) ultrafiltration for determining trace metal speciation in freshwaters. With careful cleaning, reliable fractionations of carbon and trace metals in freshwater can be obtained, and a detailed protocol necessary to avoid potentially significant biases is presented. Both PES and RCL membranes can be cleaned efficiently to provide low carbon blanks (<0.03 mg C L-1) and recleaned at least 10 times without compromising membrane integrity. For RCL, residual acid from the cleaning procedure can lower the permeate pH to below 4 in low-alkalinity river samples, but this acid can be removed prior to sample filtration with a simple treatment. Mass balance experiments with stream NOM show good recovery (99.7% [plus or minus] 9.5%, n = 67). Sorption losses are very low (on average, <2%) to RCL membranes but are higher for PES. Replicate precision is typically better than [plus or minus]5% for carbon. There are significant differences between PES and RCL membranes: permeate carbon levels are similar, but RCL predicts a larger > 10 kDa fraction and carbon sorption is more significant on PES. These findings could be explained by greater hydrophobic interactions of dissolved organic carbon with PES and charge interactions with RCL. A strong negative correlation is observed between the percent of colloidal carbon (10 kDa - 0.4 mm) and the log specific conductance of streamwaters (R2 = 0.71). Reprinted by permission of the publisher.

Accession: 003342413

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DOI: 10.1021/es991004a

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