The implementation of a portable capillary electrophoresis instrument in environmental science
Capillary electrophoresis (CE) is a well-established separation and detection technique for ionic species, which is especially used in the laboratories of medical and food research groups.
The group of the Analytical Chemistry at the University of Basel developed a portable capillary electrophoresis instrument with a capacitively coupled contactless conductivity detection (C4D) for the sensitive field measurements of ionic compounds in environmental samples.
The main advantages of such an instrument are the portability for in situ measurements, which improves the assessment for the best sampling sites without any effort and problems with sample transport and storage, and the ability to deal with very tiny sample volumes (< 20 µL), in addition to fast (2 –10 minutes) detection time and a detection limit from 0.1 to 1 µM.
Operation protocols have now to be refined in order to make the method suitable for routine use in environmental studies. The focus in our studies is on pore water measurements of lake sediments (see publications) and on the quantification of the “weatherability” of rocks, by detecting the amount of released nutrients. This includes the development of a new sampling method, to collect the available nutrients from a rock surface, in combination with the CE-measurement to quantify them. One of our test areas is the Damma glacier forefield, to contribute and profit from data from the BigLink-Project.