Nutrient Analysis

Figuring out the nutrient concentrations was next on our list of things to analyze. The nutrients we are focusing on include: phosphorus, ammonium, silicate and nitrate/nitrite. Audrey and I are not doing the analysis ourselves, so we were shown the process by a technician in the Nutrient Analytical Facility which is located just a short jaunt down the hall from our office. The machine that does the processing is called QuikChem 8000. It has a four-channel continuous flow injection system which determines the nutrient concentrations in our water samples. The process is fairly complex. Each sample is drawn up the tubing by the autosampler. It is then channeled through multiple mixing loops where the sample is mixed with specific reagents depending on the type of nutrients being looked at. Ultimately, at the end of the process, the samples will change colour. The hue and intensity of the colour gives insight into the type and concentration of the nutrients present. We’ll see what the analysis holds once we get our data from the facility.

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