Doctoral dissertation

Liquid chromatography can be used as alternative method to measure some conventional water quality indicators

Hilda Szabo
In her dissertation Hilda Szabó studied the applicability of Highperformance Liquid Size Exclusion Chromatography (HPLC-SEC) to characterize widely varying water samples. This is a reliable and faster method than those used so far to detect and quantify some key water contaminants, and obviates the use of toxic chemicals in the analysis.

Often the cause of severe problems in water quality, organic matter and nutrients are routinely measured indicators to monitor the quality of groundwaters, surface waters, and wastewater effluents. However, the conventional methods to measure these indicators have several drawbacks, such as long (up to 7 days) analysis time or use of harsh and toxic chemicals. Hilda Szabó tested a  novel method called HPLC-SEC, which separates organic compounds dissolved in water samples.

“Separation is done with a chromatographic column together with ultraviolet and fluorescence detectors, which allow simultaneous detection of humic- and protein compounds as well as inorganic nitrate,” Hilda Szabó says.

 The method was applied to groundwater, surface water, and wastewater effluent samples.The results helped describe the behavior of dissolved organic matter in a catchment, characterize organic matter composition, assess the nitrate content in groundwater, and characterize wastewater effluent quality. The study identified the chromatographic indicators that can be used to assess the total organic matter content, the biodegradable organic content, and the nitrogen content of the water samples. 

“Over the conventional methods, HPLC-SEC analysis has such key advantages as separation of key organic components of water samples, short analysis time, and no need of harmful chemicals addition,” Szabó says.

Hilda Szabó is currently working as a senior lecturer in Built Environment and Bioeconomy, Tampere University of Applied Sciences, Tampere, Finland.

The doctoral dissertation of MSc (Tech) Hilda Márta Szabó in Environmental Engineering entitled  Assessment of the Analytical Potential of HPLC-SEC for the Characterization of DOM and Nutrients in Various Types of Water will be publicly examined in the Faculty of Engineering and Natural Sciences, Tampere University at 12 o’clock on 6 March 2020, in Pieni Sali 1 Auditorium  in Festia Building (Korkeakoulunkatu 8, Tampere, Finland). The opponent in the defense is Dr. Frederica Spataro, from the National Research Council, Rome, Italy and the custos is Adjunct Professor Raghida Lepistö, Tampere University.. 

The dissertation is available online at the