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Cursus: GEO4-1439
Aquatic and Environmental Chemistry
Cursus informatie
Studiepunten (EC)7,5
Wouldn’t it be fascinating to understand which chemical principles play a key role in the Earth’s near surface environments? At the end of the course, you will have the theoretical foundation and practical skills to interpret and predict the composition of natural or contaminated waters based on equilibrium thermodynamics. You will have an overview of quantitative concepts to describe acid base properties of solids and solutions, redox speciation of certain inorganic and organic compounds in aqueous solution, solubility of solids, metal speciation in aqueous solution, distribution of compounds between different phases, and the adsorption of ions at the solid-liquid interface. You will also have learned how to use computer-based chemical speciation models and practiced your writing and assessment skills.

The course deals with processes that control the composition of water in aquifers, soils, lakes, and in the ocean. The focus lies on using equilibrium approaches to describe and quantify these processes.
The course is organized around three main themes:
  1. Speciation of dissolved compounds in aqueous solution:
    Acid-base reactions, complexation of metals, redox speciation, introduction into quantitative methods in aquatic chemistry including the tableau method and speciation models.
  2. Partitioning of compounds between different phases:
    Thermodynamics of equilibrium partitioning, gas – water partitioning, solid-water partitioning, liquid – liquid partitioning
  3. Adsorption at the solid-water interfaces:
    adsorption isotherms, surface reactivity of solids, surface complexation, ion exchange
The course includes project-based work. These projects are devoted to processes controlling the composition of waters in surface and subsurface environments or the phase distribution and transformation inorganic compounds in aquatic environments. Computer equilibrium models will be used to solve quantitative problems related to the different projects.

Development of transferable skills
  • Ability to work in a team: The quantitative problems related to various projects in the course are solved in teams, typically couples. Important part of the team work is the critical assessment and discussion of results obtained from the chemical equilibrium models.
  • Written communication skills: students are introduced to the scientific review process. They write a scientific manuscript, review manuscripts from their fellow students and improve their manuscripts based on the comments. 
  • Problem-solving skills: In the projects, students have to find a strategy to answer the given research or practical questions.
  • Analytical/quantitative skills: Students have to learn to conceptualize processes affecting the composition of natural waters. Conceptual understanding is a prerequisite to properly define problem sets in chemical equilibrium models.
  • Technical skills: students are introduced to the methodology to solve quantitative problems in the field of aquatic chemistry including chemical equilibrium models.
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