Analytical and Environmental Chemistry
The Analytical and Environmental Chemistry Laboratory of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel is involved in environmental research and more specifically of aquatic systems: open ocean, coastal seas, estuaries, rivers and lakes. This research is funded by international (EC, UN), national and regional organisations. As a part of the greenhouse problem, the impact of plankton productivity on the removal of atmospheric carbon dioxide is estimated via nitrogen uptake measurements in the euphotic oceans layer and the subsequent redistribution to the oceans interior and the seafloor. The relationships between the different levels of the aquatic food chain or food web are studied via natural stable carbon and nitrogen isotope ratios. Trace metal biogeochemistry (mercury, arsenic, cadmium, lead, copper, zinc, ..), with a special focus on metal speciation, is intensively studied in seas, estuaries and specific freshwater environments. The leaching capacity of contaminated sediments, particularly important when general water quality conditions such as redox or salinity are modified, is assessed by sequential extraction techniques and dynamic flow experiments. Furthermore, major and minor elements are investigated along growth axes of non-organic biogenic substrates such as shells and corals. For all these environmental studies appropriate analytical techniques and protocols, including quality assurance programs, are developed, adapted and validated. Mathematical models conceptualise the transport and biogeochemical processes of the studied compounds in the various aquatic environments.