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​CoS Collaborative Research Award Winners to Develop Environmentally Friendly Procedure for Environmental Nitrate Measurements

Published on: 10-Nov-2020

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Assistant Professor Patrick Martin of the Asian School of the Environment (ASE) and Associate Professor Soo Han Sen from the School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences (SPMS) have recently been awarded a College of Science (CoS) collaborative research project to develop a more environmentally friendly procedure for nitrate analysis.

Nitrates are a major environmental pollutant both on land and in water but are also essential nutrient molecules in the natural ecosystem. A major source of nitrate pollution comes from nitrogen fertilizers used in intensive agriculture activities. These nitrates readily dissolve and leach into the surrounding soil and water bodies. Therefore, accurate measurements of nitrate concentration are very important for many environmental scientists.


However, current techniques for measurement of nitrate can  exacerbate the pollution problem. The most common way to quantify nitrate uses cadmium – a highly toxic heavy metal. This measurement procedure creates toxic waste, which not only burdens the environment but is also hazardous to laboratory workers carrying out the measurement.

Through this collaboration, Asst Prof Patrick Martin and Assoc Prof Soo Han Sen are teaming up in an effort to develop a procedure that is cadmium-free, and potentially safer for laboratory workers and the environment.

“I’m hoping to help to find cleaner methods to quantify nitrate pollution that would not convert the original pollution problem into a new one,” explained Assoc Prof Soo.

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Asst Prof Martin is a marine biogeochemist, and his main research interests are cycling of carbon and nutrients in the ocean. Assoc Prof Soo’s main research area is in artificial photosynthesis. 

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