Free Eu(III) Determination by Donnan Membrane Technique with Electrochemical Detection : Implementation and Evaluation

Janot, Noémie; Groenenberg, Jan E.; Otero-Fariña, Alba; Pinheiro, José Paulo


The aim of this study was to develop an analytical method to determine free concentrations of Europium (Eu(III)) in natural waters. Europium(III) in solution was detected using cathodic stripping voltammetry after complexation with N-nitroso-N-phenylhydroxylamine (cupferron). Optimization of analytical parameters allowed us to detect nanomolar levels of Eu(III) in solution. Free Eu(III) in solution was measured using the Donnan membrane technique in which a natural solution (the “donor”, containing various ligands) is separated from a ligand-free solution (the “acceptor”) by a cation-exchange membrane. This membrane allows only non-colloidal cationic species to pass through it, and after an adequate time equilibrium is reached between both compartments. Total Eu(III) concentration can then be quantified in the acceptor solution and related to free Eu(III) in the natural sample. Due to its high valency, free Eu(III) tends to adsorb strongly to the cation-exchange membrane. In order to determine the physicochemical conditions minimizing this adsorption, we analyzed solutions of different Eu(III) and Ca(II) (as background ion) concentrations. Results showed that 100 mM of Ca(II) were necessary to make adsorption of Eu(III) onto the membrane negligible. The optimized setup was then used to quantify Eu(III) complexation in a Eu(III)-dissolved organic matter solution.