Online analysis of europium and gadolinium species complexed or uncomplexed with humic acid by capillary electrophoresis�inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry

Kautenburger, Ralf; Nowotka, Karsten; Beck, Horst Philipp
March 2006
Analytical & Bioanalytical Chemistry;Mar2006, Vol. 384 Issue 6, p1416
Academic Journal
Detailed information on the geochemical behavior of radioactive and toxic metal ions under environmental conditions (in geological matrices and aquifer systems) is needed in order to assess the long-term safety of waste repositories. This includes knowledge of the mechanisms of relevant geochemical reactions, as well as associated thermodynamic and kinetic data. Several previous studies have shown that humic acid can play an important role in the immobilization or mobilization of metal ions due to complexation and colloid formation. In our project we investigate the complexation behavior of (purified Aldrich) humic acid and its influence on the migration of the lanthanides europium and gadolinium (homologs of the actinides americium and curium) in the ternary system consisting of these heavy metals, humic acid and kaolinite (KGa-1b) under almost natural conditions. Capillary electrophoresis (CE, Beckman Coulter P/ACE MDQ), with its excellent separation performance, was hyphenated with a homemade interface to inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP�MS, VG Elemental PlasmaQuad 3) giving a system that is highly sensitive to the rare-earth element species of europium and gadolinium with humic acid. The humic acid used was also halogenated with iodine, which acted as an ICP�MS marker. To couple CE to ICP�MS, a fused silica CE capillary was flexibly fitted into a MicroMist 50 �l nebulizer with a Cinnabar cyclonic spray chamber in the external homemade interface. The chamber was chilled to a temperature of 4 �C to optimize the sensitivity. 200 ppb of cesium were added to the CE separation buffer so that the capillary flow could be observed. A make-up fluid including 4 ppb Ho as an internal standard was combined with the flow from the capillary within the interface in order to get a fluid throughput high enough to maintain continuous nebulization. Very low detection limits were achieved: 125 ppt for 153Eu and 250 ppt for 158Gd. Using this optimized CE�ICP�MS coupling system it was possible to quantify metal concentrations from the detection limit up to approximately 1 ppm (the linear range). This set-up was used to separate metal/humic acid-species in a 100 mM acetic acid/10 mM acetate buffer system. Using humic acid as the complexing ligand, uncomplexed metal ion species could be separated from metal�humate complexes on a time-resolved scale. [Figure not available: see fulltext.]


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