Creating solutions in collaboration Annual report 2013

KWR’s laboratories 

The best instruments for innovative research

1 April 2013Organisation Research

The detection of emerging substances in water calls for constantly better detection methods. This is why KWR and the water company Vitens, in April 2013, together begin a selection process for a new, high-resolution mass spectrometer. The new apparatus is to be delivered at the end of December. Partly thanks to this instrument, KWR’s laboratories can continue to contribute to international, pioneering research.

“We now have even more tools at our disposal to determine what’s in the water”

Analyst Dennis Vughs is very happy with it. No losses through sample pre-processing: to him that is the big advantage offered by the high-resolution mass spectrometer. “With this instrument it is possible to directly analyse a water sample without sample preparation, and it measures with extreme precision.” He is all too conscious of the importance of not losing any substances before measurement. “Every day new substances come along. Specially polar substances like pharmaceuticals are notorious: they zip and whip through everything and can, via sewage water, end up in surface water. It is important to be able to trace and monitor them.” With the new machine he can measure the presence of the substances.

Besides target-compound analysis, broad screening

Researcher and team leader Annemieke Kolkman explains how the selection procedure for the apparatus was carried out: “It was an intensive process, which we went through together with Vitens. After evaluating various suppliers, we had samples tested to help us make the right choice. The mass spectrometer we selected is extremely sensitive, has high scan speeds, and a very good data processing capacity thanks to its software.” KWR will be using the new mass spectrometer in various research projects concerned with the occurrence of substances in the water cycle. It is also of key importance for collaborations with the drinking water laboratories and for wider applications in the water sector – for example, apart from surface water also for the analysis of wastewater. “We now have even more tools at our disposal to determine what’s in the water,” says Kolkman. “We can also better identify emerging substances. This means that, besides target-compound analysis – the search for particular compounds – we can also perform a lot more broad screening. As a knowledge institute we can therefore remain on the cutting edge, internationally as well, and contribute to water quality and to keeping everyone healthy.”

© 2017 KWR Watercycle Research Institute

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