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Environmental problems - Chemical approaches
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Strategies in the application of the Donnan membrane technique

Liping Weng A B , Flora Alonso Vega A and Willem H. Van Riemsdijk A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Department of Soil Quality, Wageningen University, PO Box 47, 6700 AA, Wageningen, the Netherlands.

B Corresponding author. Email: liping.weng@wur.nl

Environmental Chemistry 8(5) 466-474 https://doi.org/10.1071/EN11021
Submitted: 26 February 2011  Accepted: 21 June 2011   Published: 13 September 2011

Environmental context. Free ion concentrations determine the effects of nutrients and pollutants on organisms in the environment. The Donnan membrane technique provides a measure of free ion concentrations. This paper presents clear guidelines on the application of the Donnan membrane technique for determining free ion concentrations in both synthetic and natural samples.

Abstract. The Donnan membrane technique (DMT) can be applied to measure free ion concentrations both in laboratory and in situ in the field. In designing DMT experiments, different strategies can be taken, depending on whether accumulation is needed. (1) When the free ion concentration is above the detection limit of the analytical technique (e.g. ICP-MS), no accumulation is needed and no ligand is added to the acceptor. Measurement can be based on the Donnan membrane equilibrium. (2) When an accumulation of less than 500 times is needed, an appropriate amount of ligand can be added to the acceptor and measurement can be based on the Donnan membrane equilibrium. (3) When an accumulation factor of larger than 500 times is needed, a relatively large amount of ligand is added to the acceptor and measurement can be based on the transport kinetics. In this paper, several issues in designing the DMT experiments are discussed: choice of DMT cell, measurement strategies and ligands and possible implication of slow dissociation of metal complexes in the sample solution (lability issue). The objective of this paper is to give better guidance in the application of DMT for measuring free ion concentrations in both synthetic and natural samples.


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