Natural Organic Matter (NOM)

The term “natural organic matter” (NOM) is normally used to designate all the organic matter in a reservoir or natural ecosystem other than living organisms and compounds of man-made origin. The NOM found in natural waters possesses a large variety of properties and is composed of an extremely complex mixture of compounds, most of which have not yet been identified. Because of the diversity of the natural processes of synthesis and degradation, the number of constituents in this mixture can be considered to be ‘infinite’, and therefore there is little hope of completely separating and identifying them. Consequently, studies of NOM have nearly always been concerned not with pure compounds but rather with groups of compounds separated from the initial mixture, or simply observed, by means of different techniques. Some groups, such as humic-type compounds, have received a lot of attention.

My research interests are mostly focused on the quantification of the different types of NOM. You can find the description of the technique developed in collaboration with François Quentel (UBO, France) for the quantification of the humic fraction:

V. Chanudet, M. Filella and F. Quentel (2006) Application of a simple voltammetric method to the determination of refractory organic substances in freshwaters. ANAL. CHIM. ACTA, 596, 244-249.
F. Quentel and M. Filella (2008) Quantification of refractory organic substances in freshwaters: further insight into the response of the voltammetric method. ANAL. BIOANAL. CHEM. 392, 1225-1230.
M. Filella, F. Quentel, B. Pernet-Coudrier and G. Varrault (2009) Application of a refractory organic matter quantification method to wastewater effluents. INTERN. J. ENVIRON. ANAL. CHEM. 89, 799-807.
F. Quentel and M. Filella (2011) A simple method for quantifying the humic content of commercial products. ANAL. BIOANAL. CHEM., 401, 3235-3238.
F. Quentel, M. Filella, G. Almendros and J.C. Rodríguez-Murillo (2013) Confirming consistency: Applying the electrochemical ROM quantification method to humic acids isolated from a semiarid freshwater wetland. FRESENIUS ENVIRONMENTAL BULLETIN, 22, 3464-468.

Other aspects studied are:

  • the clarification of what NOM means:

M. Filella (2009) Freshwaters: which NOM matters? ENVIRON. CHEM. LETTERS, 7, 21-35.
M. Filella (2014) Understanding what we are measuring: standards and quantification of natural organic matter. WATER RESEARCH, 50, 287-293.

  • the evaluation of existing techniques:

V. Chanudet and M. Filella (2006) The application of the MBTH method for carbohydrate determination in freshwaters revisited. INTERN. J. ENVIRON. ANAL. CHEM., 86, 693-712.

  • the study of NOM cycling in freshwaters:

V. Chanudet and M. Filella (2007) Submicron organic matter in a peri-alpine, ultra-oligotrophic lake. ORG.GEOCHEM., 38, 1146-1160.
M. Filella, J.C. Rodríguez-Murillo and F. Quentel (2013) Natural organic matter quantification in the waters of a semiarid freshwater wetland (Tablas de Daimiel, Spain). JOURNAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES, 25, 114-123.