It is easier to analyse what we release to water than what nature releases to its waters. This ”Natural Organic Matter” (NOM) plays a vital role in water usage and we still know very little about it!

Why do we know so little about NOM?


  • … cannot be concentrated without beeing destroyed.
  • … is present in very small concentrations only.
  • … is too hydrophilic to be isolated from water.
  • … has no specific chemical functionalities.

In this situation, what can be done?

  1. Inject the water sample directly into a semipreparative column filled with a hydrophilic polymer containing pores for separation according to speed of diffusion and use a mild buffer at neutral pH as mobile phase.
  2. Use several detectors for analysis including a DOC-detector for quantification.
  3. Use custom-made intelligent software for data processing.
  4. Have an experienced person for data interpretation.

This approach is called ”LC-OCD” (Liquid Chromatography – Organic Carbon Detection).
DOC-Labor Dr. Huber has developed this technique and is currently the only service laboratory offering this worldwide to research and industry.

The benefit of LC-OCD?

NOM is separated into 6 known sub-fractions which give meaningful results for most questions related to water treatment.

Position of LC-OCD in the family of analytical tools for characterisation of NOM

When we look at analytical tools for the analysis of NOM we can choose techniques with a high compound identification potential, like GC-MS, or high mass balancing potential, like TOC.

Many researchers use both strategies and have to realise that a large part of DOC remains unidentified.

LC-OCD was developed to fill this analytical ”gap”, at least to some extent. While mass balancing on the basis of DOC is maintained, a lot of information on the qualitative composition of DOC is obtained.

For example, humic substances, which are the most dominating class of compound in natural waters, are quantified and characterised.

Sensitivity of LC-OCD-OND is in the low ppb range: Even organic traces in very ”pure” waters, such as lab waters, can be analysed by direct injection of sample.