Particle & Surface Sciences reports that Nanoparticle Tracking Analysis (NTA) is being implemented for further characterisation of natural colloids (inorganic and organic) at the Institute of Water Resources and Water Supply at the Technical University Hamburg-Harburg in Germany.
Very common in aquatic systems, inorganic and organic colloids influence many water quality treatment processes. To address the lack of an adequate analysis technique to measure the size fraction below 1000 nm, the research group of Professor Mathias Ernst of the Institute of Water Resources and Water Supply at the Technical University Hamburg-Harburg adopted NanoSight’s NTA technique to provide new insights into water quality.
PhD student Martin Schulz began his research at the Berlin Centre of Competence for Water, where he first used NTA to assess different water treatment processes, in particular looking at particle and colloid removal and water purification methods. His work focused on membrane filtration where he encountered the problem of membrane-fouling when colloids would block the pores of the membrane. Schulz used NTA to predict the fouling potential of a water sample, thus providing time for the treatment plant to react with different pre-treatment options.
Describing the work of the Institute of Water Resources & Water Supply at TU-Hamburg-Harburg, Schulz observes that the institute provides professional support to water companies and industry partners for the optimisation of processes, problem solving and innovation. The institute will offer NTA as a support tool to regional water companies who have problems with particles and colloids in their treatment processes and water distribution systems.
Commenting on the suitability of the NTA technique for this work, Schulz says that NTA is perfect for the concentration range of water and wastewater samples, providing reliable size detection in polydisperse samples that occur in almost all natural water samples. He adds that the fast and precise detection of the smallest colloid fraction (< 200 nm) is a huge advantage. Additionally, the NTA technique also has potential for making on-line measurements.