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HPLC-SEC: a new approach to characterise complex wastewater effluents

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-270
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Analytical Chemistry
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 19 Feb 2016
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


This work investigates the use of HPLC-SEC to characterise dissolved organic matter (DOM) of complex wastewater effluents. A silica-based column, sodium acetate eluent and multiple detections were employed: UV-254 absorbance for humictype, and tryptophan-like (Ex/Em = 270/355) and tyrosine-like (Ex/Em = 270/310) fluorescence for protein type compounds. Effects of eluent pH, eluent ionic strength and injection volume on separation efficiency were tested. Humic-type and protein-type fractions were clearly differentiated and eluted within and out of calibration range. Eluent ionic strength had the greatest influence on global resolution; the lowest eluent concentration of 0.01 M produced the best separation for all wastewater effluents tested at any detection. UV-254 absorbance was higher at neutral and basic eluent pH while tryptophan-like fluorescence depended on the sample composition rather than on the eluent pH or ionic strength. Tyrosine-like fluorescence decreased significantly with the increase of eluent ionic strength. Accurate molecular weight measurements could not be done, the separation being influenced by secondary interactions, but could be approximated using separate calibrations with sodium salts of polystyrene-sulfonates and protein standards. The results show that this method is suitable for determining DOM in wastewater at low eluent concentrations (up to 0.03 M), at neutral or slightly basic pH.


  • DOM, Fluorescence, greywater, humic, ionic strength, proteins, tryptophan, UV-254

Publication forum classification

Field of science, Statistics Finland