An atomic-absorption spectrophotometric method with electrothermal atomisation has been developed for the determination of selenium in geological materials. The sample is decomposed with a mixture of nitric, perchloric and hydrofluoric acids and heated with hydrochloric acid to reduce selenium to selenium (IV). Selenium is then extracted into toluene from a hydrochloric acid - hydrobromic acid medium containing iron. A few microlitres of the toluene extract are injected into a carbon rod atomiser, using a nickel solution as a matrix modifier. The limits of determination are 0.2-200 p.p.m. of selenium in a geological sample. For concentrations between 0.05 and 0.2 p.p.m., back-extraction of the selenium into dilute hydrochloric acid is employed before atomisation. Selenium values for reference samples obtained by replicate analysis are in general agreement with those reported by other workers, with relative standard deviations ranging from 4.1 to 8.8%. Recoveries of selenium spiked at two levels were 98-108%. Major and trace elements commonly encountered in geological materials do not interfere. Arsenic has a suppressing effect on the selenium signals, but only when its concentration is greater than 1000 p.p.m. Nitric acid interferes seriously with the extraction of selenium and must be removed by evaporation in the sample-digestion step.
Additional publication details
Determination of sub-microgram amounts of selenium in geological materials by atomic-absorption spectrophotometry with electrothermal atomisation after solvent extraction