Application of nitrogen fertilizers
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Balancing the nitrogen cycle
Excessive fertilizer usage leads to nutrient pollution in rivers
Understanding Nitrate Pollution with Elementar
Webinar Series
Balancing the nitrogen cycle
Manure from livestock leads to nitrate in groundwater
Balancing the nitrogen cycle
Burning fossil fuels leads to N2O in the atmosphere
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Looking for an easier way to analyze 15N and 18O of dissolved nitrate?

Do you spend large amounts of time preparing and growing Pseudomonas aureofaciens? Fed up of completing risk assessments when you are trying to purchase or dispose of dangerous chemicals? Maybe the idea of dealing with these problems has dissuaded you from starting to analyze 15N and 18O of dissolved nitrate altogether? Now you have another option.

New method

The titanium (III) reduction of nitrate is quick and safe

A groundbreaking new paper from Altabet et al.* has described a new technique for the conversion of dissolved nitrate to N2O without using hazardous reagents or bacterial cultures giving fully prepared samples within 24 hours. With easily obtained reagents and basic laboratory infrastructure, novice labs can perform high quality isotopic analysis of nitrate.

* Altabet, M.A., Wassenaar, L.I., Douence, C., Roy, R. (2019) A Ti(III) reduction method for one-step conversion of seawater and freshwater nitrate into N2O for stable isotopic analysis of 15N/14N, 18O/16O and 17O/16O, Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry, Vol 33, Issue 15, Pages 1227-1239. Link:

Understanding Nitrate Pollution

On Demand Webinar Series

Elementar is proud to present a series of webinars hosted by academic experts describing the impacts of nitrate pollution and how we can develop solutions to reduce nitrate in the environment. Critical to developing these solutions is stable isotope analysis, an analytical technique which can inform scientists about the possible sources of pollution.

Learn more here.

Blue-green algae or cyanobacteria in water

Hear from the method's co-creator in our whitepaper

Explore Dr. Wassenaar’s new method and learn what it could mean for the future of nitrate isotope analysis


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Celebrating 25 Years of Dr Carol Kendall’s Dual Isotope Plot of Nitrate Sources

An interview with Dr Kendal

Stable isotope analysis enables researchers to identify the likely dominant sources of nitrate, whether from agricultural fertilisers, animal manure, improperly treated sewage and wastewater, or other sources. The dual isotope plot of nitrate sources makes it simple to visualise the likely sources of nitrate in water samples, as the first step towards implementing solutions.

We sat down with Carol to discuss how she developed the now-famous dual isotope plot, the impact of her work over the last quarter-century, and the applications of her research to address urgent concerns about environmental pollution.

Learn more here.


Choosing the right method for your nitrate isotope analysis

Nitrogen pollution is one of the world's key environmental challenges, posing threats to water quality and accelerating climate change. Through overuse of synthetic fertilizers, increasing numbers of livestock and the burning of fossil fuels, the amount of nitrate entering the environment is unsustainable. To identify and quantify the sources of environmental nitrate laboratories have a choice of sample preparation mehods to choose from - but which method is right for your laboratory?

Learn more here.

Titanium (III) chloride reduction method

Simple, one-step reaction

1.    Add reagents and sample to 40 ml or 20 ml vial using pipette
2.    Leave vials 12—24 hrs to react (conversion of sample nitrate to N2O)
3.    Run samples on IRMS system

Learn more about this method by downloading our whitepaper.

Already established your nitrate method?

In 2001, Sigman & Casciotti published their breakthrough paper which described using denitrifying bacterial cultures to convert nitrate to N2O for 15N analysis. Then a year later, the method was updated to perform dual isotope 15N and 18O analysis from a single freshwater or seawater sample, allowing sources of nitrate to be easily resolved. This method, and the cadmium-azide method (Altabet et al., 2005) have been widely adopted by laboratories around the world. Our stable isotope analyzer EnvirovisION is fully compatible with these methods making it ideal for existing laboratories which use these techniques.  

Introducing EnvirovisION

Stable isotope analyzer for the isotopic analysis of dissolved nitrate

EnvirovisION is a specially configured stable isotope analyzer for the isotopic analysis of dissolved nitrate samples and has been enhanced to utilize the new titanium (III) reduction* sample preparation method. The system has numerous features designed to automate, simplify, and improve sample throughput allowing you to generate more data, faster. 

Simpler, faster dissolved nitrate analysis with EnvirovisION

Icon "Flexibility"
Great flexibility
Supports any nitrate method you choose to run as well as greenhouse gas analysis
Icon "High sample throughput"
High throughput
Analyze 70 samples a day using parallel processing giving 40% faster analysis than other systems
Icon "High data quality"
High data quality
Achieve the highest analytical performance with the most precise instrument available
Icon "Ease of use"
Ease of use
Simple preparation of dissolved nitrate samples using new titanium (III) reduction method in less than 24 hours

The ideal solution for quantifying the global nitrogen cycle


Is this the future of nitrate isotope analysis?
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Front page of the Data Bulletin
Analysis of dissolved nitrate δ15N and δ18O isotopes for environmental studies using the EnvirovisION
Front page of the Data Bulletin
Zero isotope exchange between δ18ONitrate and δ18OWater using the titanium (III) reduction method
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Front page of the Data Bulletin
Titanium (III) Method - IAEA Intercomparison
Customer Spotlight: The Institute of Applied Ecology China
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Flyer EnvirovisION
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Ti (III) Reduction Method for Nitrate stable isotope analysis
EnvirovisION presentation at JESIUM
Presentation: Analysis of dissolved nitrate stable isotopes using the one-step Ti (III) reduction method and EnvirovisION IRMS
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Fully automated N2O analysis

Balancing the nitrogen cycle

All life depends on the availability of nitrogen. It is an essential nutrient yet is almost completely inaccessible in its most abundant form, N2. Elemental nitrogen is therefore consumed and expelled via myriad chemical, physical and biological processes which perpetuate the global nitrogen cycle, holding natures balance in check. But for the last 100 years, anthropogenic activity has tipped these balances in ways we do not yet fully understand. The price of being able to feed the global population and provide them with energy may prove high.


How the shifts and balances in the nitrogen cycle ultimately play out due to anthropogenic inputs is unknowable, but we must attempt to understand this intricate system if we are to mitigate the worst effects of our inputs into the nitrogen cycle. Stable isotope analysis is an essential tool as we attempt to do that. 

Contact us

Do you have questions or challenges and need an expert to provide straightforward support? Evaluating different methods and need our help? Our experts are available to answer all your questions about isotopic analysis of dissolved nitrate samples.

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