Insights from industry

The Manufacture of Certified Reference Materials

Dr. Brian Alexander, Technical Process Director at Inorganic Ventures, talks to AZoM about the manufacture of certified reference materials.

Could you please provide a brief introduction to the industry that Inorganic Ventures (IV) works within and outline the key drivers?

Internationally recognized standards are needed for most businesses, as they facilitate trade and commerce. IV works within the industry focused upon the production of Certified Reference Materials (CRMs), which form the basis for many international standards. Faith and confidence in the products manufactured and sold can be achieved in two ways: buyers can audit individual suppliers to ensure the product meets required specifications, or suppliers can demonstrate they meet international standards. The first approach is costly and time-consuming. Inorganic Ventures supports the second approach by manufacturing certified chemical standards that can be used during testing to verify product or service specifications. Our customers represent industries that range from mining to pharmaceutical to environmental compliance organizations, as well as local and national governments.

In a world where flexibility and efficient business practices drive corporate policy, many industries desire products or services tailor-made for their individual needs, particularly as regulatory and compliance requirements evolve. Inorganic Ventures specializes in providing unique CRMs designed to fit the specific needs of our customers. We work closely with clients to design custom products that fit their requirements exactly, and manufacture, test, and ship these products within five days.

One of the CRMs you work with are rare earth elements (REEs), how does IV combine REEs together to form these custom products?

We combine the rare earth metals using validated processes that are based upon gravimetric analysis, and that are traceable to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The custom CRMs are then tested using inductively coupled plasma techniques prior to certification.

What are the major advantages of using the products that IV can supply?

Accuracy, complete traceability to international standards, flexibility, fast turnaround, great customer service, and a 100% unconditional guarantee.

Our products are unique in that we certify them using two independent methods where possible. Our policy of multiple certification methods ensures the highest levels of accuracy.

Can you outline the two independent methods that you are referring to?

They are a mixture of wet chemical methods, spectrometric methods, gravimetric methods, and chromatography.

Examples would be:

  • Wet Chemical - EDTA Titration, Acidimetric Titration and Redox Titration
  • Spectrometric - ICP and UV-VIS
  • Gravimetric - Sulfate Gravimetric and Analytical Balance
  • Chromatography - Ion-Chromatography

Most ‘two independent method’ certifications are a combination of either:

  1. Gravimetric + spectrometric
  2. Ion-chromatography + analytical balance
  3. Wet-chemical + spectrometric

What industries primarily benefit from the materials which IV can supply?

Mining and assaying industries, as well as those involved with magnet production, new lighting technologies, or any reliant upon the many unique properties of the rare earths.

Where do you currently supply to? Are there plans to expand operations in the near future?

We supply our product to all parts of the world; over 100 countries and to every continent (with the exception, to our knowledge, of Antarctica). We do have plans to expand operations, though the exact timing of that growth is to be determined.

How do you see the rare earth metal market progressing over the next decade?

Dr. Brian Alexander

It will continue to grow. The unique properties of the rare earth elements mean that significant demand will continue, and it’s likely that new, as yet unforeseen, uses for these elements will drive growth as well.

How will IV be a part of this change?

Our ability to react quickly to market needs and provide unique products means that IV will be well prepared to meet the requirements of our customers, whatever they may be.

About Dr. Brian Alexander

Dr. Brian Alexander is an earth scientist specializing in geochemistry. His research has focused on trace metal analysis using ICP techniques and rare earth element studies of natural waters and chemical sediments. Today, Dr. Alexander is the Technical Process Director at Inorganic Ventures.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily represent the views of Limited (T/A) AZoNetwork, the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and Conditions of use of this website.

Alessandro Pirolini

Written by

Alessandro Pirolini

Alessandro has a BEng (hons) in Material Science and Technology, specialising in Magnetic Materials, from the University of Birmingham. After graduating, he completed a brief spell working for an aerosol manufacturer and then pursued his love for skiing by becoming a Ski Rep in the Italian Dolomites for 5 months. Upon his return to the UK, Alessandro decided to use his knowledge of Material Science to secure a position within the Editorial Team at AZoNetwork. When not at work, Alessandro is often at Chill Factore, out on his road bike or watching Juventus win consecutive Italian league titles.


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