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Practical aspects of an on-line laboratory data system

Journal of Automatic Chemistry
Hindawi Publishing Corporation
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1155/s1463924679000742
  • Research Article
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Design
  • Ecology


Practical aspects of an on-line laboratory data system A.P. Rowland Analytical chemist, Natural Environment Research Council, Institute of Terrestrial Ecology, Merlewood Research Station, Grange.over-Sands, Cumbria, LA11 6JU, U.K. C.C. Blake Research director, Trivector Systems Ltd., York House, Stevenage Road, Hitchin, Herts, U.K. Introduction A prime function of the Chemical Section of the Institute of Terrestrial Ecology is to provide a routine analytical service for ecologists. Their analytical requirements are varied, and include nutrient elements, structural components and pollutants in plant and animal materials, soils, rocks and natural waters. Because of the heterogeneity of biological systems, statistical considerations require the analysis of large numbers of samples. As many as ten thousand samples a year and up to ten constituents, generally inorganic nutrient elements, are determined on each sample. The growing demand for an efficient analytical service made it necessary to look at alternative ways of improving throughput time. More efficient laboratory organisation, including the actual design of new accommodation, helped in this direction, but the most important factor was the use of automated analytical techniques. The design and organisation of the laboratory allows the flexibility required for routine investigations, together with associated research projects. Most of the procedures in use are based on wet chemical methods, and the instrumental techniques most commonly in use are flame photometry, atomic absorption and continuous flow colorimetry, and these are fitted with fully automated sample presentation systems. The dual channel flame photometer is dedicated to the simultaneous determination of sodium and potassium. Atomic absorption is in very frequent use for calcium and magnesium and also for the minor nutrients of copper, zinc and manganese. A flameless atomiser attachment provides the facility to determine low levels of trace element and pollution constituents. Two

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