Water quality Laboratories

DIATI is home of experimental and modeling activities dedicated to the characterization, protection, and improvement of the quality of natural waters and treated effluents. In particular, it includes the Hydrogeological Research laboratory, the EnviNano laboratory, the en.sur.e. water laboratory, and the Clean Water Center. Theoretical and applied research projects are performed on topics such as: characterization of groundwater and surface water resources, characterization of water springs and aquifers, remediation of contaminating sites, water purification and desalination, wastewater treatment and extraction of high-quality water from contaminated streams.


Aquifer models that include different soil particle sizes, piezometric levels, and the possibility of visualizing the flow and transport of solutions.

Membrane filtration models for water filtration.


Instrumentation for the characterization of colloidal suspensions of micro- and nanoparticles of environmental relevance (reactive particles for the nanoremediation of contaminated sites, microplastics, nanopesticides, other particulate contaminants, aerosols). This instrumentation includes:

  • Disc centrifuge, for the dimensional analysis of micro- and nanometric particles (indicative range 50 nm - 50 microns)
  • Dynamic Light Scattering, for the dimensional and zeta potential analysis of nanoparticles in aqueous suspension (range 10 -1000 nm)
  • Acoustic spectrometer, for the dimensional analysis of concentrated suspensions of micro- and nanometric particles (indicative range 30 nm - 50 microns)
  • Instrument for the dimensional analysis of environmental aerosols in the range 6 nm - 10 micron;
  • Two-wavelength laser instrument for the dimensional analysis of particles in the range 0.15 - 40 microns.

Experimental setups for the study of the transport of dissolved substances and particles in saturated and unsaturated, as well as aerosols, at different scales. The main applications include nanoremediation and traditional remediation of contaminated aquifer systems, the study of the underground mobility of contaminants of industrial and agricultural origin, the filtration efficiency of industrial systems and personal protection equipment. This instrumentation includes:

  • Setup for transport tests in porous media to evaluate injectivity, transport and range of influence of reagents for the remediation of contaminated aquifers. The setups consist of: columns or 2D / 3D systems that can be packed with natural or artificial porous media, pumps for high-pressure viscous fluid injection, sensors for monitoring pressure and magnetic susceptibility, in-line systems for the dispersion of particles in viscous fluids. The setups are modular and adaptable to the study of different geometries and different scales (cylindrical column of length 0.3 - 1 m, radial 2D system with radius 0.8 m, tank of 0.5 m3)
  • Setup for transport tests in porous media to evaluate the mobility of contaminants and particles in the soil and subsoil (e.g., contaminants of industrial origin, micro- and nanoplastics, synthetic nanomaterials, nanopesticides). The setups consist of: low-flow injection pumps, columns or 2D / 3D systems, in-line spectrophotometer for monitoring influent and effluent concentrations, probes for measuring parameters such as pressure, matrix tension, water content, temperature, and redox potential. The setups are modular and adaptable to the study of different geometries and different scales.
  • Laboratory lysimeter, for medium-large scale study of flow and transport processes of contaminants, nutrients and pesticides. The setup consists of: equipped simulator (cylindrical body with diameter 30 cm, height 90 cm), rain simulator, automatic or manual sampling system, automatic weighing system, probes for the measurement of the pH, ORP, temperature, matrix tension, and water content.
  • Setup for microfluidics / microscopy tests to study the mobility of colloidal particles at the microscopic pore scale. The setups consist of: microfluidics system, real time imaging system, in-line concentration measurement system using a spectrophotometer.
  • Setup for the size analysis of aerosols, including microbial ones, and for the testing of filtration systems.

Instrumentation for the characterization of different environmental matrices and fluids used for site remediation, including:

  • Gas chromatograph, to analyze the concentration of gases and volatile and semi-volatile organic contaminants in various laboratory and field samples
  • Magnetorheometer, for the analysis of the rheological and magnetorheological properties of non-Newtonian fluids, mainly used for the remediation of aquifer systems

Field instrumentation for monitoring aquifer systems, to monitor the levels of the water table, flow rates, ground gas analysis, pumps, flow cells, interface probes.

Surface potential analyzer: SurPASS™ 3 electrokinetic analyzer (Anton Paar), mainly used for the characterization of the surface potential of membranes. This system can also be used for other flat solid samples as well as fibers and fabrics, granular samples, and coarse particles, powders, and 1 mL syringes.

Total carbon and total organic carbon analyzer: high-sensitivity TOC-Lcsh analyzer (Shimadzu) for the measurement of total carbon, inorganic carbon, and total organic carbon (TOC) in aqueous solutions.

Experimental setups for filtration through ceramic and polymeric membranes at different scales. The applications mainly concern the purification, desalination and extraction of water from saline and hypersaline solutions, the treatment of wastewater, and the extraction of valuable resources from aqueous streams. This instrumentation includes:

  • a reverse osmosis / nanofiltration lab-scale cross-flow system (5-70 bar) for rectangular flat-sheet membrane samples of small (3 × 10 cm) and medium (9.7 cm × 14.7 cm) size
  • a low pressure (0.5-5 bar) ultrafiltration / nanofiltration lab-scale dead-end system for circular flat-sheet membranes (diameter 2.54 cm = 1 inch) (Merck stirred cell 8010
  • a lab-scale cross-flow system for ultrafiltration / nanofiltration (0.5-10 bar) capable of hosting both rectangular flat membrane samples (3 × 10 cm) and tubular ceramic membranes (diameter 1 cm and length 25 cm)
  • a forward osmosis lab-scale system for flat-sheet membranes, for rectangular samples of size 20 cm2 (2.5 cm × 8 cm)
  • a forward osmosis lab-scale system for flat-sheet membranes, for rectangular membrane samples with dimensions of 140 cm2 (9.7 cm × 14.7 cm)
  • a membrane distillation lab-scale system (direct contact) for flat-sheet membranes, for small (2.5 cm × 8 cm) and medium-sized (5 cm × 25 cm) rectangular samples
  • a membrane distillation system (direct contact) of medium size for flat-sheet membranes, for rectangular samples of dimensions 10 cm × 50 cm
  • a dead-end lab-scale system for reverse osmosis / nanofiltration (5-70 bar) hosting circular flat--sheet membrane samples (diameter 7 cm) (Sterlitech HP4750)
  • a pilot micro / ultrafiltration system for single module ceramic membranes (length 1 m)
  • a glass diffusion cell for circular flat-sheet membranes with a diameter of 1.4 cm

These systems are partially modular and adaptable to the study of different geometries and at different scales.

Laboratory instrumentation for the determination and quantification of the ions and metals present in aqueous solutions:

  • Merck dual-stage water deionization system, with pure and ultrapure water production (type 2 and type 1), for the preparation of reagents and standards
  • Metrohm Ionic Chromatograph: instrumentation used to determine the concentration of anions
  • Shimadzu Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometer: instrumentation used to determine the concentration of anions, cations and metals operating in two sample atomization modes; through flame or graphite oven
  • Metrohm titrator: instrumentation used for the determination of the concentration of Ca and Mg cations, of the hydrogen carbonate anion and for other titrations with automatic control of the potential
  • Ball mill: instrumentation used for the treatment of solid matrices for their subsequent analysis
  • Millestone microwave digester: instrumentation used for the treatment of solid matrices for their subsequent analysis
  • Thermo Fisher Plasma Mass Spectrometer (ICP-MS): instrumentation used for evaluating the concentrations of metals and rare earths with sensitivity to the unit of ppt

Portable instrumentation for the characterization of aqueous solution in the field:

  • WTW acquirers with sensors and electrodes for the determination of electrical conductivity, temperature, pH, redox potential and dissolved oxygen
  • Fluorometer to determine the concentration of tracers used for identifying water infiltration paths feeding springs or other water emergencies
  • Instrumentation for the identification of thermal stratifications and electrical conductivity through the C.E./T sensor
  • OTT multiparameter probes to monitor the quality of spring water
Type Experimental and teaching laboratory
Phone +39 0110907713 - +39 0110907670