Ferrozine colorimetry and reverse flow injection analysis (rFIA) based method for the determination of total iron in aqueous solutions at nanomolar concentrations


Iron is one of the most microbiologically and chemically important metals in natural waters. The biogeochemical cycling of iron is significantly influenced by the redox cycling of Fe(II) and Fe(III). Because of the unique chemistry of iron, it is often needed to analyze iron at nano-molar concentrations. This article describes a reverse flow injection analysis (rFIA) based method with ferrozine spectrophotometric detection to quantify total iron concentration in stream water at nanomolar concentrations. The rFIA system has a 0.65 nM detection limit and a linear dynamic range up to 1.40 μM for the total iron analysis. The detection limit was achieved using a 1.0 m long liquid waveguide capillary flow cell, 1.50 m long knotted reaction coil, 87.50 μL injection loop and a miniature fiber optics spectrophotometer. The optimized colorimetric reagent has 1.0 mM ferrozine, 0.1 M ascorbic acid, 1.0 mM citric acid and 0.10 M acetate buffer adjusted to pH 4.0. The best sample flow rate is 2.1 mL min−1 providing a sample throughput of more than 15 samples h−1. The linear dynamic range of the method can be adjusted by changing the volume of the injection loop. The rFIA manifold was assembled exclusively from commercially available components.