The sensitivity of miniaturized chemical analysis systems depends most of the time on the obtainable detection limit. Concentrating the analyte prior to the detection system can enhance the detection limit. In this writing an analyte concentrator is presented that makes use of evaporation to increase the ion concentration of an electrolyte. The evaporation rate can be enhanced using forced convection. In order to control the evaporation rate a nitrogen flow is fed over a liquid channel covered with a hydrophobic vapor permeable membrane.Water vapor can pass through this membrane in contrast to water itself because of the hydrophobic nature of the membrane surface. An electrolyte conductivity detector is used to measure directly the concentration effect as a function of the nitrogen flow velocity. The influence of the convective nitrogen flow and the residence time of the analyte inside the concentrator are investigated in this paper. It is shown that the evaporation rate is enlarged with an increase in convective flow. The concentration effect is also enhanced when the residence time of the analyte inside the concentrator is increased. The higher concentration enhancement due to the longer residence time, however, results in an increase in water vapor present in the nitrogen flow. This results in a lower normalized evaporation rate when the available evaporation time is enlarged.
- Electrolyte solution concentrator
- Micromachined membrane