DOC-Labor
Dr. Stefan Huber
Retrospectives
2002
2002 was a very good year for our LC-OCD hardware. We delivered two complete LC-OCD systems to major water research institutes. The results of this research will also be beneficial to us and our customers.

In 2002 we started with sample pre-concentration techniques for ultrapure water of the Semiconductor Industry. There is much interest to learn about the sources of TOC in UPW in the sub-ppb range. First results will be presented at  the SPWCC conference in 2003.


The range of "exotic" waters measured with LC-OCD has further expanded. In previous years we had analysed:

    Marine Waters off-coast the North Siberian Sea
    Very old, highly mineralized deep-well water used as Healing Water in a Spa
    Many Million years-old, salt-saturated brine water of water bubbles enclosed in Permian Zechstein salt. TOC was still around 500 ppb and, of course, devoid of humics

This year we got:

    Very old "fossil" water from a deep well in the Sahara desert
    Sulfate-rich water from the Caspian Sea
    A natural water from a Gas exploration site in Germany
    Deep Sea Certified Reference Material

2005
For three years we did not keep track - we were just too busy to update our homepage.

Was has happened meanwhile?

The most important change is the change in address. We moved a few blocks upstream of a small river (River Pfinz, the northernmost river of the Black Forrest). We have more space now, a big laboratory, a fully climatized measuring room and an office with a beautiful look at the Pfinz.

Businesswise we expanded our services to special analyses, like urea in raw waters (ppb-range), sub-1-ppb UPWs, analysis of neutrals compounds after pre-treatment of samples with analytical scale SAC and WBA filters, all kinds of studies related to membrane fouling, including desalination plants and last not least


Introduction of High-resolution Ion Chromatography (HRIC)

The main difference to conventional IC is the higher resolution which allows the detection of organic acids in the presence of inorganic anions, e.g. formiate can be detected in the presence of chloride. The IC system was planned for studies in the power industry (analysis of potentially corrosive impurities in the water-steam cycles). Together with LC-OCD we now can provide a complete picture of organic and inorganic anions in the water-steam cycle (except silica, for which on-line instruments are better suited).


Introduction of OND

An Organic Nitrogen Detector is coupled to LC-OCD. With this addition we can quantify the amount of proteinic matter within the high-molecular weight fraction of biopolymers, also know as the polysaccharide fraction. The OND is also necessary for the detection of urea and other low-molecular weight N-
compounds in UPWs.


As far as analytical instrumentation is concerned we have shipped a second LC-OCD instrument to Japan and further systems to France and Switzerland. Now we have 8 systems operating worldwide.
2006
2006 was the most turbulent  year in DOC-LABORís history.

We moved to new premises and enlarged the work space to 170 sqm. In 2007 we will double this space to 340 sqm to meet the increasing demand in LC-OCD systems. In previous years we shipped one system per year in average. In 2006 we shipped 4 LC-OCD-OND systems to Finland, The Netherlands, S-Korea and Japan. This makes it a total of 12 systems sold and it is likely that in oncoming years this figure will rise at a quicker pace.

As far as home-made research is concerned we made progress in:

    - the analysis of urea in raw water: Two techniques are possible: Direct injection of raw water in a high-resolution column, or ion exchange pre-
     treatment of sample.
    
    - Marine waters: We optimised chromatographic conditions to get a better resolution. The results are at least as good a for sweet waters.
    
    - Biopolymer analysis: In the past the entire biopolymer fraction eluted at the exclusion volume of the column. Now we can separate this fraction in
     several sub-fractions.

Last not least: Stefan Huber received the Paul Cohen Memorial Award for the most innovative presentation given at the International Water Conference © in Orlando/Florida in 2005.
2008
In 2007 we enlarged our work space further from 170 sqm to 340 sqm.

To fill this space better we have employed a chemist, Dr. Michael Abert.  Dr. Abert studied at the Universities of Oldenburg (Master), Leipzig (PhD) and Karlsruhe (Post-DOC). In his PhD-thesis Dr. Abert worked on a thermal-based TOC-detectors, humic substances characterisation and FFF (Flow-Field-Fractionation).

In 2007 the demand of LC-OCD-OND systems continued to be high. We shipped 3 systems to Japan, China and Spain. For 2008 we expect at least 4 orders for LC-OCD-OND systems.

Oh yes, last not least!:  The recent past was also very fruitful in private aspects:

In 2007 Michael Abert became father with the birth of his son Julian.

In 2008 Andreas Balz, became father of twins, a son and a daughter, Konstantin and Anika.

Analytical work

Biopolymer characterisation: We worked on techniques for better resolution of the biopolymer fraction using columns with larger pore sizes. Although we got better resolution we had to observe that a significant proportion of the biopolymers got lost on the column due to trapping. We decided to cease this approach. Instead we are currently working on coupling FFF (Flow Field Fractionation) with OCD-OND.

Marine Waters: We improved this application further and are quite confident that we now can identify the compounds responsible for membrane fouling. DOC-LABOR participates in a large research project on this matter (MEDINA-project).

Semiconductor reclaim waters: We established a library of most organic compounds used in chip manufacturing. This allows us to be more specific for unknown organic contaminants.
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2012
4 years since my last entry - obviously time travels faster (on relative scale).

What happened since 2008?

As late as in 2011 I found the time to get published a review paper on LC-OCD in Water Research (see publications). Another paper published in the same year in Aqua deals with analysis of urea. Analytical services keep us busy and we have now 4 LC-OCD machines in our measuring lab to ensure sufficient capacity.

LC-OCD manufacturing has also increased and we are now manufacturing 5 systems in series instead of 2.

Michael Abert has left us in 2011 and Nico Seeleib has taken over his part in 2012.

Interestingly, while I was striving in past years to be irreplaceable as possible, I now try to share my expertise with people or to put it down on paper in order to be replaceable. This makes me feel better and secures the future of DOC-Labor. The idea is that all employees at DOC-Labor are capable of running DOC-Labor on their own and to train new personal themselves.