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Determination of nitrate in sea water by cadmium-copper reduction to nitrite

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 May 2009

E. D. Wood
Affiliation:
Department of Oceanography, University of Washington, Seattle
F. A. J. Armstrong
Affiliation:
The Plymouth Laboratory, England
F. A. Richards
Affiliation:
Department of Oceanography, University of Washington, Seattle

Extract

An accurate, dependable determination of 0–60 μg-at./l. of NO3-N in sea water has been developed. The sample is treated with tetrasodium ethylenediaminetetraacetate solution and passed through a column of copperized cadmium filings. A nearly quantitative reduction of nitrate to nitrite results. Nitrite is then determined by a diazotization method. Neither sulphide nor high nitrite concentrations interferes. Approximately eight samples per hour per column can be analysed with a standard deviation of 0.12 μg-at./l. at the 20 μg-at./l. level.

Introduction

Accurate determinations of nitrate ions in sea water have been difficult, especially under shipboard conditions.

The colorimetric method described by Harvey (1926, 1930) and improved by Cooper (1932), Zwicker & Robinson (1944), and others uses strychnidine in concentrated sulphuric acid to produce a red colour. The reagent lacks reliable sensitivity, because it is dependent on the rates of mixing and cooling.

In a method by Armstrong (1963), the absorbance of nitrosyl chloride in the UV region is measured with a spectrophotometer. While the method is good for small samples containing high concentrations of nitrate, the use of concentrated sulphuric acid and lack of sensitivity limit its use in routine analysis.

A method in which nitrate is quantitatively reduced to nitrite would be advantageous, because nitrite can be readily determined by the sensitive diazotization method proposed by Griess (1879). Several such methods have been proposed. FØyn (1951), Vatova (1956), and Chow & Johnstone (1962) used zinc powder for the reduction, but the reduction is sensitive to temperature, and it is necessary to centrifuge or filter each sample.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 1967

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References

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