Quantitative determination of multiple surfactants in water using HPLC-MS/MS
Process water from oil sand operations contains chemicals such as scale or corrosion inhibitors added during bitumen processing as well as soluble organics from the bitumen. Under a zero discharge policy, all process water must be stored on-site in tailings ponds. Since the environmental fate of many of these chemicals is unknown, their widespread use has raised increasing concerns due to their potential impact on downstream aquatic ecosystems when the water containing these chemicals seeps into the environment during operations or when it is discharged into the environment after operations (although some sort of water treatment will almost certainly be needed before such release is allowed). To determine the fate of these chemicals, one should selectively detect them and quantify their amount in the environment. In this study, a new HPLC-MS/MS method was developed to measure some typical process chemicals. Using this method, inorganic salts were separated from the chemicals without any sample pre-treatment, and the ionic and non-ionic surfactants were detected and quantified. This method will be useful in the determination of potential impacts of individual process chemicals on the environment.