Archive for March, 2013

The Three Most Common Questions During XRF Service

During a recent service meeting, the question “What are the most common questions our clients ask you during a service visit?” was posed to the field service technicians of Eastern Applied Research.  Every XRF service technician offered five or six different questions they are asked but the following three stood out as the most common.

Do we need to turn the XRF analyzer off…or can we just leave it on?
How often should we recalibrate?
Can you provide training?

To create a resource for XRF users that may have the same questions, each field technician submitted their answers and those are summarized below.  Contact Eastern Applied Research if you would like to discuss these questions or have any other XRF related questions that we can help answer. Learn More: XRF Services overview.

How often do we need to turn the XRF analyzer OFF…or can we just leave it ON?
This was the most common question and the consensus of the field technicians is It is suggested to leave most XRF analyzers ON all the time’.  While this may vary based on the individual clients’ use of a system or special circumstances, this is the consensus because leaving a unit ON will decrease the warm up time of the detector and x-ray tube.  Plus, limiting the on/off stress on components may help to increase their lifespan.  Most manufactures have built into their software a power down program that allows the unit to stay ON but turns the current down on the important components. (side note; always have an approved uninterruptible power supply on an XRF)

How often should we re-calibrate our XRF?
There is no set time-frame for re-calibration of an x-ray fluorescence analyzer, so technicians can’t have a standard answer for this question. Many variables can contribute for each client; including the analyzer model, age, current performance, application interest, and (most importantly) the customers’ tolerances.

The only answer a technician can offer is to discuss the variables and make sure a client is checking their calibrations for accuracy. This should happen at least once a week but a daily check is best….again, the tighter the tolerance requirements a customer has, the more often they will want to verify performance.  After doing regular calibrations, an XRF user will establish a particular timeline that shows when a specific calibration starts to drift and will know they need to re-calibrate.  If drift occurs more frequently over time, then components may be compromised and a technician should be called in to review.

It is important to note that this re-calibration is different than the annual re-certification.  Re-certification is a service provided by Eastern Applied that involves a number of steps that are detailed in our blog “Annual XRF Certification Service: what happens and why”.

Can you provide XRF training?
Our field service staff is trained in all areas of major XRF brands and models.  They will typically be able to offer a short training service at the end of the maintenance visit or schedule your team for an extensive training session.  Rates for these services vary.

Questions, comments, concerns?  Contact Eastern Applied and we’ll be happy to assist.

Can an XRF help identify precious metals in catalytic converters?

Over the years, associates at Eastern Applied Research have received calls from scrap recyclers and precious metal refiners about testing automotive catalytic converters for precious metals.  Until recently, we never had a strong analyzer for this application.  However, with the addition of the high performing Xmet 7000 series of handheld analyzers from Oxford Instruments, we can answer ‘sure, we can help you identify precious metals in catalytic converters’.

If you are reading this, you may already know that the honeycomb cores of the cat-converters contain the precious metals Platinum (Pt), Palladium (Pd), and Rhodium (Rh).  Once the cores are removed from the metal shell they can be ground into a fine powder and then smelted by a refiner to extract the pure precious metals.  At either point, both approaches require fast and accurate analysis of the Pt, Pd, and Rh content.  Using a portable x-ray fluorescence analyzer puts the scrap recycler in the best position to increase profits on these transactions because they will know the exact amount of precious metals they are working with.

In addition to quantification of the precious metals, the handheld systems will also benefit recyclers with two other capabilities.  First, it will let recyclers grade the steel of the metal shell with the built-in alloy analysis mode – this is obviously important information for scrap dealers. Second, the analyzers will identify any toxic elements that may be present (cadmium, mercury, etc) so that recyclers will not contaminate the environment and will comply with environmental standardsfor their site.

We are extremely happy to be a distributor of the Oxford Instrument handheld analyzer line.  Catalytic converter recycling is just one example where adding the line will immediately allow us to have a solution for application questions that we have been asked in the past.

More testing needs are being solved than ever before by Eastern Applied Research – so let us know if you have any application questions.  Contact Eastern Applied Research and our associates can guide you to the right XRF analyzer fit to solve the need.