System of analysis for the quality assurance of drinking water

Schematic representation of the combined structure of distillation for sample preparation and detection with UV-vis

A low-maintenance system that combines distillation and UV-vis spectrometry enables the detection of organic compounds from the drinking water matrix down to trace levels. The high-resolution system can be used for monitoring sensitive water resources.

The analytical monitoring of water resources is a necessary component of quality assurance and risk minimisation. Online sensor technology lends itself to the rapid detection of pollutant entry. There are hardly any systems to measure organic compounds on the market. This situation was the drive to develop an online sensory system that meets many of the required boundary conditions. Distillation is used to prepare samples and to separate the volatile organic analyte from spectral interference components (nitrate, humic substances, turbidity). UV-vis spectroscopy is used for detection. This is robust and makes it possible to detect down to trace levels by using long cuvettes. The system is operated automatically via measurement and and control technology and can perform up to four analyses per hour. Intelligent algorithms are used to evaluate the results and the selectivity and sensitivity can be further increased. The system can detect many organic compounds from diverse water matrices right down to the lower microgram per litre range. Using the selected combination of methods means a longer maintenance-free operation. The prototype laboratory set-up first implemented during this project was then further developed in other research projects. The system takes a measurement after a few minutes and is therefore well suited to monitoring sensitive water resources in a timely manner.


O. Happel, S. Mertineit, H.-J. Brauch, G. Krieg, D. Fey, D. Coric, M. Walter, Online-Sensorsystem zur Überwachung der Wasserbeschaffenheit auf organische Verbindungen [Online sensor system to monitor water quality for organic compounds] Mitt Umweltchem Ökotox 2012, 18(3) 66-69.

O. Happel, S. Mertineit, H.-J. Brauch, Online-Sensor zur Überwachung der Wasserbeschaffenheit auf organische Verbindungen [Online sensor to monitor water quality for organic compounds], Vom Wasser 2012, 110(3), 80-83.

G. Krieg, D. Fey, O. Happel, S. Mertineit, Verfahren und Vorrichtung zur Detektion von Fremdstoffen in Wasser [Method and devices to detect impurities in water], European patent specification EP 2786126 B1 (Patent granted: 11.10.2017).