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Preconcentration of rare earth elements (REEs) using silica gel modified with several functional groups
Determination of rare earth elements (REEs) in environmental samples can be performed by inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES) and inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS), in addition to other spectrometric and chromatographic methods. Although these plasma-based techniques offer a good quality data for the determination of REEs, an efficient separation/preconcentration technique prior to instrumental measurements may still be required due to low concentrations and the presence of heavy matrix, in order to achieve accurate and reliable results. In this study, silica gel modified with various organic compound containing S and N functional groups was proposed as adsorbent material for preconcentration of REEs in environmental waters before ICP-MS determination. These organic compounds are (3-aminopropyl)trimethoxysilane (APTMS), (3-mercaptopropyl) trimethoxysilane (MPTMS), 2.aminophenol, 2-aminothiophenol, 2-aminobenzothiazole and L-glutamic acid dimethyl ester. It was shown that REEs can be sorbed by only APTMS and MPTMS modified silica gel quantitatively in a broad pH range (pH>3). At high REEs concentration APTMS modified silica gel (silicaamino) worked better than silica gel. Up to 10.0 mg/L, silica-amino have sorbed higher than 80% of the REEs while silica gel could sorb only 30% of them. Among the sorbents investigated silica-amino was chosen for subsequent experiments. Desorption from APTMS modified silica and silica gel was realised with 1.0 M HNO3. Spike recovery tests were performed in various water types including ultra pure water, sea water, tap water and geothermal water and were found to change between 81-110%.