Evaluation of DGT techniques for measuring inorganic uranium species in natural waters: interferences, deployment time and speciation

Geraldine Turner, Graham Mills, P. Teasdale, J. Burnett, S. Amos, Gary Fones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Three adsorbents (Chelex-100, manganese dioxide [MnO2] and Metsorb), used as binding layers with the diffusive gradient in thin film (DGT) technique, were evaluated for the measurement of inorganic uranium species in synthetic and natural waters. Uranium (U) was found to be quantitatively accumulated in solution (10–100 μg L−1) by all three adsorbents (uptake efficiencies of 80–99%) with elution efficiencies of 80% (Chelex-100), 84% (MnO2) and 83% (Metsorb). Consistent uptake occurred over pH (5–9), with only MnO2 affected by pH < 5, and ionic strength (0.001–1 mol L−1 NaNO3) ranges typical of natural waters, including seawater. DGT validation experiments (5 days) gave linear mass uptake over time (R2 ≥ 0.97) for all three adsorbents in low ionic strength solution (0.01 M NaNO3). Validation experiments in artificial sea water gave linear mass uptake for Metsorb (R2 ≥ 0.9954) up to 12 h and MnO2 (R2 ≥ 0.9259) up to 24 h. Chelex-100 demonstrated no linear mass uptake in artificial sea water after 8 h. Possible interferences were investigated with SO42− (0.02–200 mg L−1) having little affect on any of the three DGT binding layers. PO43− additions (5 μg L−1–5 mg L−1) interfered by forming anionic uranyl phosphate complexes that Chelex-100 was unable to accumulate, or by directly competing with the uranyl species for binding sites, as with MnO2 and the Metsorb. HCO3− (0.1–500 mg L−1) additions formed anionic species which interfered with the performance of the Chelex-100 and the MnO2, and the Ca2+ (0.1–500 mg L−1) had the affect of forming labile calcium uranyl species which aided uptake of U by all three resins. DGT field deployments in sea water (Southampton Water, UK) gave a linear mass uptake of U over time with Metsorb and MnO2 (4 days). Field deployments in fresh water (River Lambourn, UK) gave linear uptake for up to 7 and 4 days for Metsorb and MnO2 respectively. Field deployment of the Metsorb-DGT samplers with various diffusive layer thicknesses (0.015–0.175 cm) allowed accurate measurements of the diffusive boundary layer (DBL) and allowed DBL corrected concentrations to be determined. This DBL-corrected U concentration was half that determined when the effect of the DBL was not considered. The ability of the DGT devices to measure U isotopic ratios with no isotopic fractionation was shown by all three resins, thereby proving the usefulness of the technique for environmental monitoring purposes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-46
Number of pages10
JournalAnalytica Chimica Acta
Publication statusPublished - 20 Aug 2012


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