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about spe

Solid Phase Extraction is an extraction process whereby an aqueous sample is filtered through a bed of sorbent particles. The sorbent particles are usually in the form of a disk or a cartridge. Analytes of interest are removed from the aqueous sample and concentrated onto the sorbent.  Once concentrated, the analytes are removed from the sorbent by a series of eluting solvent rinses.

Solid Phase Extraction methods offer significant advantages over traditional Liquid-Liquid Extraction (LLE) techniques.

  • SPE uses less solvent than a typical LLE procedure
  • SPE is faster; only 20-30 min for a 1-liter sample
  • SPE costs considerably less than LLE
  • SPE provides comparable / better recoveries than LLE
  • EPA Methods are constantly being developed for SPE
Comparison of LLE and SPE Disk Methods
Uses 200 to 500 mL of solvent Uses 20 to 30 mL of solvent
Shaking/continuous process Filtration process
Forms emulsions and surfactants No emulsions formed
Limited selectivity Wide selectivity (absorbent)
Requires solvent removal Optional
Two hours per sample 20 minutes per sample


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