Case Study: Elemental Analysis to Identify Contaminant in Brine Solutions

PROBLEM: A medical device company requested the identification of an unknown contaminant causing the formation of a solid precipitate in their brine solution.

SOLUTION: Impact Analytical performed quantitative analysis of 37 elements on the contaminated sample and compared the results with a control product

TECHNIQUES: Inductively coupled plasma-optical emission spectroscopy (ICP-OES)

Impact Analytical was contacted to identify an unknown contaminant, which caused the formation of a solid precipitate in a brine solution. Brines are saline solutions widely used in a variety of applications in different fields, from the food industry as preservatives to the petrochemical industry in oilfield drilling and hydraulic fracturing. The presence of high concentrations of salts makes the analysis of these samples very challenging. 

ICP-OES ANALYSIS
The contaminated and the control brine samples were analyzed by ICP-OES, quantifying 37 common elements from aluminum to zinc. Minimal dilution of the starting brine solutions allowed the quantification of trace elements down to 0.01-0.5 part-per-millions (µg/g). More diluted samples were used to quantify the major components in the weight % range.

SOLUTION & RESULTS
ICP-OES analysis found traces of copper, lead and zinc only in the contaminated sample.  The contaminated and control brine solutions were similar in composition with the exception of these three elements.  These elements are consistent with residues of brazing materials coming in contact with the brine and causing the formation of a precipitate.

Use ICP-OES analysis to identify unknown contaminants and elements present in your materials