Identifying Metals with a Spectrometer to Restore Bridges

Netherlands-based engineering consultancy Nebest was appointed to examine and verify materials used in several old bridges throughout the Netherlands. Among these bridges was “De Hef”, an 1877 steel railroad bridge linking the Southern district Feyenoord in Rotterdam with the Noordereiland Island in the river Maas. The team was able to quickly establish the weldability of material for maintenance works using PMI-MASTER Smart — a really transportable spark spectrometer.

The Dutch authorities were eager to commence maintenance work on “De Hef”, but since the bridge was old, the materials used in the construction of the bridge were not entirely documented across the years. As a result, Nebest had to identify the materials used and infer their carbon content. It is well recognized that steels containing carbon in excess of 0.22% are hard to weld or don’t weld at all. Other elements also affect weldability, thus making it necessary to also inspect the new material being welded for the carbon equivalent.

The Nebest team, specializing in solutions for inspection and research in industrial, infrastructure, electrical, mechanical and offshore installations, was not allowed to remove any material from the historic listed bridge. Therefore, the only option was to perform an on-site analysis.

The PMI-MASTER Smart’s real value is its ability to quickly and accurately determine the precise carbon content and the carbon equivalent of material.

Measuring Carbon with an OES Analyzer

Optical emission spectrometers (OES) are used to estimate carbon. These are generally large and unwieldy and are incapable of reaching places like a bridge construction.

Nebest chose Hitachi High-Tech’s truly portable OES analyzer, PMI-MASTER Smart. The instrument is compact, weighs 15 kg, provides quick results, and has an analytical performance that is similar to laboratory quality. It is ideal when measurements had to be taken in hard-to-reach places.

Results that Deliver Value

Nebest found the PMI-MASTER Smart quite user-friendly when analyzing the materials used on the “De Hef” bridge. However, its real value was its ability to accurately and rapidly establish the materials’ precise carbon content. This enabled the team to determine the weldability of the original material directly on-site, providing considerable savings.

In addition, the PMI-MASTER Smart was set-up with a library of the most common formulas to facilitate the computation of the significant material properties based on the chemical results — in this case, the carbon equivalent.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Hitachi High-Tech Analytical Science.

For more information on this source, please visit Hitachi High-Tech Analytical Science.


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