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Water Quality Centre

picture of instruments that are available for use at Trent's Water Quality Centre

Water Quality Centre


The Water Quality Centre (WQC) is located in the Chemical Sciences Building at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario.

All mass spectrometers are housed in two labs, located just steps away from each other. Argon and nitrogen, used by the mass spectrometers, is supplied through bulk systems that provide the lab with uninterrupted gas supply. There are separate sample prep rooms for organic and inorganic analysis. The inorganic prep room is a Class-10,000 clean room equipped with two Fully Exhausted Polypropylene Vertical Laminar Flow Workstations, providing better than Class-10 conditions, and a Class-100 Laminar Flow Workstation.

Access to the facility is restricted to authorized personnel only. All PCs in the Centre are linked by an Intranet, protected by a hardware firewall, and connected to an automatic backup system.

Mass Spectrometers

A description of our mass spectrometers follows. Each has unique capabilities but is complementary to the others.

For radiogenic and stable isotope analyses (Multicollector-ICP-MS)

Nu Plasma 1700 MC-ICP-MS


The Plasma 1700 is built to deliver the ultimate performance in MC-ICP-MS analyses. With a 5-ton magnet and occupying a whopping 4 m x 4 m footprint, this behemoth will enable the WQC to tackle extremely demanding applications that cannot be performed on other instruments.



Image of the Thermo Finnigan (Neptune) Multicollector ICP-MS Thermo Finnigan (Neptune) Multicollector ICP-MS

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The Neptune is a high-resolution multi-collector ICP-MS and is the go-to instrument for high-precision (<0.001% 2RSD) isotope ratio analyses of metal isotopes. Applications range from tracing environmental contaminants, such as Pb, Hg, Zn, to tracing nutrient sources in the oceans, e.g. Zn, Sr, to the determination of stable as well as radiogenic isotope ratios in geological/cosmological samples.


Image of the Nu Plasma2 ICP-MS, a high-tech MC-ICP-MS instrument.Nu Plasma2 ICP-MS

The Nu-Plasma-2 (Nu Instruments, UK) is a state-of-the-art MC-ICP-MS instrument, specifically designed for the analysis of isotopic ratios of metal and metalloid elements. The instrument has 16 Faraday collectors and 3 ion-counters, making it the most versatile instrument on the market. It also provides high mass-resolution capabilities to resolve potential interferences in the mass-spectrum.






For trace metal analyses (ICP-MS and ICP-OES)

Image of the Prodigy-7 ICP-OES, a high tech instrument.

Teledyne Leeman Prodigy7 ICP-OES

The Prodigy-7 (Teledyne LeemanLabs, US) is a state-of-the-art dual-view ICP optical emission spectrometer (ICP-OES). It offers fast and simultaneous analysis of most elements, with detection limits as low as a few parts-per-billion. The robustness of the ICP and the high dynamic range make this instrument ideally suited for samples with high matrix and element concentrations. In the WQC, this instrument is used to carry out elemental analyses of drinking and waste-waters, soil extracts and dissolved rock samples.



Image of the Agilent 8800 Triple Quadrupole ICP-MS, a high-tech instrument.Agilent 8800 Triple Quadrupole ICP-MS

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The Agilent 8800 triple quad uses tandem MS configuration (with an additional quadrupole in front of the collision reaction cell) to remove interferences and allow for greater sensitivity and reliability.  Elements such as sulphur, phosphorous, chloride and iiodine can be measured with confidence.





Image of the Varian (820) ICP-MS, a high-grade instrument.Varian (820) ICP-MS

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The Varian 820 inductively coupled mass spectrometer is used for analyses requiring very low detection limits (ppt or ppq) and for integration with chromotographic separations. A direct application for this mass spectrometer is the measurement of radium in water.




Image of the Nu (Attom) High Resolution (HR) ICP-MS, a high-grade lab instrumentNu (Attom) High Resolution (HR) ICP-MS

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The Attom is a high-resolution magnetic sector ICP-MS and is used to analyse ultra trace level abundances (ppt and lower) of metals. Because of its high sensitivity and the ability to provide flat-topped peaks, it is also extremely well suited for the accurate and precise (+/- 0.1%, 2RSD) determination of isotope ratios, such as Pb, even for samples that contain as little as 0.1 ppb Pb.



Image of the Thermo (XSeries2) ICP-MS, a piece of high-grade lab equipmentThermo (XSeries2) ICP-MS

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The XSeries2 is a quadrupole ICP-MS with collision cell technology used for the determination of trace-metal concentrations in environmental samples, such as water and soil and sediment digests. Using the collision cell technology to remove interferences from the mass spectrum, this iinstrument is particularly suited for the detection of transition metals.



For emerging organic contaminant analyses (LC-MS/MS & GC-MS)

Image of the Applied Biosystems (QTrap 5500) LC-MS/MS lab instrumentApplied Biosystems (QTrap 5500) LC-MS/MS

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The Qtrap 5500 is the most sensitive organic mass spectrometer in the WQC.  Operated in multiple reaction monitoring (MRM) mode, this hybrid triple quadrupole linear ion trap is the go-to instrument for quantitation of trace organic contaminants (such as pharmaceuticals, personal care products, plant hormones) and targeted metabolomics.  When using the linear ion trap (LIT) this instrument has MS3 capabilities and can be used to assist for structural identification of unknowns. This instrument is equipped with both turbo ion spray and atmospheric pressure chemical ionization (APCI) sources and can be coupled with both liquid and ion chromatography instruments.


Image of the Thermo (Q Exactive) Quadrupole-Orbitrap LC MS/MS lab equipmentThermo (Q Exactive) Quadrupole-Orbitrap LC MS/MS

Related publications

»Mangal et al 2016
»Shi et al 2016

The Thermo Q Exactive combines quadrupole precursor ion selection with high-resolution, accurate-mass Orbitrap detection. It is also equipped with a Mass Tech AP MALDI source.  It is useful for untargeted or targeted screening and a broad range of qualitative and quantitative applications in drug discovery, proteomics, environmental and food safety, clinical research and forensic toxicology.


Image of the Thermo ISQ Trace 1300 GC-MS lab equipment.Thermo ISQ Trace 1300 GC-MS

The Thermo GC-MS  is composed of a Trace 1300 gas chromatography instrument and an ISQ single quadrupole mass spectrometer and is ideal for routine qualitive and quantitative analysis of volatile compounds.  It is equipped with both electron (impact) ionization and chemical ionization, a large volume injection port capable of injections up to 5 mL and a 155 vial autosampler.







For molecular high resolution analyses (FT-ICR-MS)

Image of the Bruker (SolariX-XR) lab equipment​Bruker (SolariX-XR)

   First one in Canada!

The Bruker SolariX XR (eXtreme Resolution) is a Fourier Transform – Ion Cyclonic Resonance (FT-ICR) mass spectrometer equipped with a 7 T magnet.  This instrument is capable of up to 10 million resolution and provides the user access to chemical information, including isotopic fine structure and mass accuracy (< 100 ppb) that was previously inaccessible. A wide variety of applications is possible including complex environmental sample and petroleum product analyses, proteomics studies and metabolomics research.



For traditional stable isotope analyses (CF-IRMS and GC-IRMS)

Image of the Nu Horizon CF-IRMS lab equipmentNu Horizon CF-IRMS

The Nu Horizon continuous flow isotope ratio mass spectrometer,  coupled with an Agilent 7890A GC, enables us to carry out compound specific isotope analysis  This can be used for environmental forensics, for example to determine if PAH contamination is from natural sources or from anthropogenic activities.





Decommissioned instruments

  • Thermo Finnigan (Element2) ICP-MS

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  • Micromass (Q-Tof-2) LC-MS/MS

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  • Micromass (Quattro) LC-MS/MS

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  • Applied Biosystems (Q-Trap) LC-MS/MS

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  • Applied Biosystems (API 3000) LC-MS/MS

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  • Varian (Saturn 2200) GC-MS/MS

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  • Micromass (Isoprime) CF-IRMS

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Other instrumentation

In addition to the mass spectrometers, the WQC also possesses:

  • Dionex Accelerated Solvent Extractor
  • Sartorius SE2 microbalance
  • Brooks Rand MERX Automated MeHg Anlayser
  • 2 DSL (Delta Scientific Laboratory) Sub-Boiling Stills
  • Ethos EX Microwave Extraction System
  • APEX and ARIDUS desolvators for sample introduction
  • the ability to carry out various separation techniques including:
    • ion chromatography (IC)
    • liquid chromatography (HPLC) as well as a preparative chromatography system
    • hydride generation (HG)