Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Dr. Wei-Ping Pan (Director), Dr. Cathleen Webb, Dr. Thandi Buthelezi

Degree Program

Department of Chemistry

Degree Type

Master of Science


In most of the analytical and environmental laboratories today inductively coupled plasma (ICP) is a method of choice for analysis of trace metal elements present in coal and coal combustion products. This method requires use of liquid samples, so all coal and coal combustion products must be digested prior to analysis by ICP. Traditionally an open-air hot-plate acid digestion method published as ASTM D6357-04 was used to extract all trace metal elements into solution.

Recent development of microwave systems designed for digestions under extreme acidic conditions and high temperatures and pressures shifted focus toward more rapid and precise microwave-assisted digestion of samples. A number of papers have been published involving research efforts toward development of quantitatively satisfying digestion methods. However, there is still no published ASTM or EPA method for microwave-assisted digestion of coal and coal combustion products. The goal of this research is compare the recoveries obtained by using hot plate method with results obtained by microwave-assisted digestion, as well as to attempt to optimize method conditions for latter.


Chemistry | Organic Chemistry | Polymer Chemistry