Identification of ozonation by-products of 4- and 5-methyl-1H-benzotriazole during the treatment of surface water to drinking water

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During the treatment of surface water to drinking water, ozonation is often used for disinfection and to remove organic trace substances, whereby oxidation by-products can be formed. Here we use the example of tolyltriazole to describe an approach for identifying relevant oxidation by-products in the laboratory and subsequently detecting them in an industrial-scale process. The identification process involves ozonation experiments with pure substances at laboratory level (concentration range mgL -1). The reaction solutions from different ozone contact times were analyzed by high performance liquid chromatography - quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry (HPLC-QTOF-MS) in full scan mode. Various approaches were used to detect the oxidation by-products: (i) target searches of postulated oxidation by-products, (ii) comparisons of chromatograms (e.g., UV/VIS) of the different samples, and (iii) color-coded abundance time courses (kinetic) of all detected compounds were illustrated in a kind of a heat map. MS/MS, H/D exchange, and derivatization experiments were used for structure elucidation for the detected by-product. Due to the low contaminant concentrations (ngL -1-range) of contaminants in the untreated water, the conversion of results from laboratory experiments to an industrial-scale required the use of HPLC-MS/MS with sample enrichment (e.g., solid phase extraction.) In cases where reference substances were not available or oxidation by-products without clear structures were detected, reaction solutions from laboratory experiments were used to optimize the analytical method to detect ngL -1 in the samples of the industrial processes. We exemplarily demonstrated the effectiveness of the methodology with the industrial chemicals 4- and 5-methyl-1H-benzotriazole (4- and 5-MBT) as an example. Moreover, not only did we identify several oxidation by-products in the laboratory experiments tentatively, but also detected three of the eleven reaction products in the outlet of the full-scale ozonation unit.

Original languageEnglish
JournalWater Research
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)679-690
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 01.03.2012

    Research areas

  • Chemistry - HPLC-QTOF-MS, HPTLC/AMD-MS, Ozonation by-products, Tolyltriazole, Water purification