Spectroscopic characterisation of dissolved organic matter changes in drinking water treatment: From PARAFAC analysis to online monitoring wavelengths

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


External organisations

  • University of New South Wales (UNSW) Australia


Organic matter (OM) causes many problems in drinking water treatment. It is difficult to monitor OM concentrations and character during treatment processes due to its complexity. Fluorescence spectroscopy is a promising tool for online monitoring. In this study, a unique dataset of fluorescence excitation emission matrixes (EEMs) (n=867) was collected from all treatment stages of five drinking water treatment plants (WTPs) situated in diverse locations from subtropical to temperate climate. The WTPs incorporated various water sources, treatment processes and OM removal efficiencies (DOC removal 0%-68%). Despite these differences, four common fluorescence PARAFAC components were identified for characterisation of OM concentration and treatability. Moreover, fluorescence component ratios showed site-specific statistically significant correlations with OM removal, which contrasted with correlations between specific UV absorbance at 254nm (SUVA) and OM removal that were not statistically significant. This indicates that use of fluorescence spectroscopy may be a more robust alternative for predicting DOC removal than UV spectroscopy. Based on the identified fluorescence components, four optical locations were selected in order to move towards single wavelength online OM monitoring.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-169
Number of pages11
JournalWater Research
Early online date7 Feb 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2014


  • Coagulation, Dissolved organic carbon, Drinking water treatment, Fluorescence excitation emission matrix (FEEM), SUVA