On-the-spot Analysis of Water Samples

Rapid tests deliver immediate results

A portable photometer and test kits provided by MACHEREY-NAGEL enable the project team to analyze sample content on-site. Our scientists will be testing for turbidity, chemical oxygen demand (COD) values, total organic carbon (TOC) values, and levels of ammonium, oxygen, nitrates, and phosphates. With these values, variations in concentrations along the Tennessee River can quickly be identified.


Filter Analysis in Labs

Searching for the component parts

Every day, a specified amount of water will be filtered with a special filter system from Wolftechnik Filtersysteme GmbH & Co. KG. The filter cake will be stored and at the end of the project tested under an infrared microscope to determine microplastics type and particle size distribution. The sampling process, as well as the testing and evaluation of the samples, will be supported and carried out by Furtwangen University.

Furtwangen University


How Even the Smallest Particles Become Visible

Modern measurement methods in use

During the swimming phase a portable ATR-IR spectrometer provided by Perkin Elmer will be used to test visible plastic particles on-the-spot. Visitors can give it a try, too if they are interested. Invisible particles which are < 6 µm in size will be examined at HFU with a Perkin Elmer infrared microscope.


The Passive Sampler

Like a fish – constantly in contact with water

With a so-called passive sampler, the swimmer collects all adsorbable materials which he comes into contact within the Tennessee River. The sampler is a membrane placed on the swimmer’s leg or back. At the end of the swim stage, the contents of the sampler are extracted at EAWAG and carefully tested for multiple water-soluble organic chemicals. Using this method, several hundred known substances can be determined. An unknown substance analysis can also be done on any particularly intensive residual substance peaks in order to find any until-now undiscovered chemicals and possibly identify them with the help of high-resolution mass spectrometry.