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NO reduction to N2O improves nitrate 15N abundance analysis by membrane inlet quadrupole mass spectrometry

Earlier an automated sample preparation unit for inorganic nitrogen (SPIN) coupled to a membrane inlet quadrupole mass spectrometer (MIMS) was developed for automated and sensitive determination of the 15N abundances and concentrations of nitrate, nitrite and ammonium of aqueous solutions without any sample preparation. Here we describe an alternative analytical protocol to convert NO3 to N2O instead of NO before measurement. This is advantageous because NO strongly interacts with surfaces, requires long purge times, and still shows considerable carryover between samples, all of which is avoided when N2O is used as analyte. The sensitivity of the measurement of NO3 as N2O is comparable to the earlier measurements with NO as analyte.

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