Analysis of Cement According to ASTM C114

Analysis of Cement According to ASTM C114 Using an EDXRF Spectrometer

Cement analysis in a production environment is one of the most vital applications of X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectrometry. Generally, wavelength dispersive instruments are preferred because of their accuracy, speed, precision, and long-term stability.

In recent times, an increasingly number of Energy-Dispersive XRF (EDXRF) instruments have also been installed. In fact, in large cement industries, EDXRF is usually set up as a backup of Wavelength-Dispersive XRF (WDXRF), while smaller industries may use EDXRF as their only XRF for production control.

ASTM C-114 Requirements

Undoubtedly, ASTM C-114 is the most commonly used standard test method for assessing the performance of XRF instruments (and other analysis techniques) for cement analysis. This standard defines a very stringent protocol for evaluating both the precision and accuracy of the method while setting rigorous performance requirements.

The protocol requires proper calibration of an XRF instrument after which it is used for analyzing a set of at least seven reference cements — preferably NIST certified reference materials (CRMs).

On different days, two rounds of analyses are to be completed by repeating all the sample preparation steps. It is also necessary to calculate the differences between values and averages of the values from the two rounds.

When seven CRMs are used —– as is the case in this article — at least six of the seven differences acquired for any single analyte should not surpass the limits indicated in column 3 of Table 1 and the remaining differences by no more than twice that value.

Table 1. Maximum permissible variations in results according to ASTM C-114

Analyte Unit Max. difference between duplicates Max. difference of avg. of duplicates from CRM certificate values
Na2O % 0.03 0.05
MgO % 0.16 0.2
Al2O3 % 0.20 0.2
SiO2 % 0.16 0.2
P2O5 % 0.03 0.03
SO3 % 0.10 0.1
K2O % 0.03 0.05
CaO % 0.20 0.3
TiO2 % 0.02 0.03
Mn2O3 % 0.03 0.03
Fe2O3 % 0.10 0.1
ZnO % 0.03 0.03


Likewise, at least six of the seven averages for each analyte should not differ from the certified concentrations above the value indicated in column 4 of Table 1, and the remaining average by more than twice that value.


The ARL QUANT’X™ XRF spectrometer from Thermo Scientific™ is an EDXRF system that offers an economical and rapid analytical capability. It is equipped with an air-cooled Rh end-window tube with thin Be window of 0.05 mm thick and has the highest power of 50 W. An electrically cooled silicon drift detector (SDD) with an area of 30 mm2 is equipped in the ARL QUANT’X spectrometer. In total, nine primary beam filters are provided in the instrument guaranteeing that an optimal excitation condition is always found. For unattended analysis, an optional 10 position sample changer is provided.

ARL QUANT’X™ XRF spectrometer

Excitation Conditions

To cover all the analytes listed in Table 1, two excitation conditions are used. One condition at 4 kV without a filter to activate all light elements from sodium up to sulfur and a second condition at 16 kV with a thin Pd filter for all the remaining analytes. A total live time of 300 seconds was used to complete a single sample analysis. All measurements were carried out in vacuum. An outline of the conditions is given in Table 2.

Table 2. Excitation conditions

Condition Voltage (kV) Filter Time (s) Atmosphere Analytes
Low Za 4.00 None 200 Vacuum Na2O, MgO, Al2O3, SiO2, P2O5, SO3
Mid Za 16.00 Thin Pd 100 Vacuum K2O, CaO, TiO2, Mn2O3, Fe2O3, ZnO


Sample Preparation

Seven cement CRMs of the 18xx series (NIST SRMs 1880a, 1881a, 1884a, 1885a, 1887a, 1888a, and 1889a) were prepared in the form of pressed powders. Using a puck and ring mill, Cement CRMs are ground for 90 seconds and pressed onto a boric acid backing at 20 tons to create a pellet of 32 mm Ø.


An outline of the results obtained for the different cement CRMs is given in Table 3a and 3b. Table 3a compares the variation between duplicates with the maximum permissible value, while Table 3b compares the variation between the average of duplicates. The results obtained for most of the analytes fulfill the ASTM C-114 requirements. Table 3b shows one value for SiO2 which varies more than the maximum difference listed in Table 1. While this value was obtained for NIST SRM 1887a, it is still within the rounding error and less than twice the permissible value. Therefore, requirements according to the ASTM C-114 test method are still met for this analyte.

Table 3a. Difference between values obtained on day 1 and 2

Analyte Unit Max. possible difference between duplicates Max. observed difference between duplicates
Na2O % 0.03 0.02
MgO % 0.16 0.03
Al2O3 % 0.20 0.03
SiO2 % 0.16 0.13
P2O5 % 0.03 0.01
SO3 % 0.10 0.02
K2O % 0.03 0.01
CaO % 0.20 0.04
TiO2 % 0.02 0.01
Mn2O3 % 0.03 0.01
Fe2O3 % 0.10 0.01
ZnO % 0.03 0.00


Table 3b. Difference between averages of values and certified values

Analyte Unit Max. permissible difference of the average of duplicates from CRM certificate values Max. observed difference of the average of duplicates from CRM certificate values
Na2O % 0.05 0.03
MgO % 0.2 0.05
Al2O3 % 0.2 0.07
SiO2 % 0.2 0.23
P2O5 % 0.03 0.03
SO3 % 0.1 0.06
K2O % 0.05 0.02
CaO % 0.3 0.20
TiO2 % 0.03 0.01
Mn2O3 % 0.03 0.00
Fe2O3 % 0.1 0.04
ZnO % 0.03 0.00


Detection Limits

Shown in Table 2 are the detection limits that can be obtained with the ARL QUANT’X spectrometer for the different analytes in a cement matrix. The limits are reported for excitation conditions and measurement times as used in this article to meet the ASTM C-114 standard (Table 2).

Table 4. Minimum detection limits

Analyte Unit Minimum detection limits
Na2O % 0.018
MgO % 0.011
Al2O3 % 0.006
SiO2 % 0.003
P2O5 % 0.002
SO3 % 0.001
K2O % 0.005
CaO % 0.003
TiO2 % 0.003
Mn2O3 % 0.001
Fe2O3 % 0.001
ZnO % 0.001



The results demonstrated in this article show that a compact EDXRF instrument such as the ARL QUANT’X spectrometer is capable of meeting the ASTM C-114 requirements for cement analysis. They also demonstrate that analysis times can remain short without affecting performance.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Thermo Fisher Scientific - Elemental Analyzers.

For more information on this source, please visit Thermo Fisher Scientific - Elemental Analyzers.


Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:

  • APA

    Thermo Fisher Scientific - Elemental Analyzers and Phase Analyzers. (2019, December 02). Analysis of Cement According to ASTM C114. AZoM. Retrieved on May 17, 2022 from

  • MLA

    Thermo Fisher Scientific - Elemental Analyzers and Phase Analyzers. "Analysis of Cement According to ASTM C114". AZoM. 17 May 2022. <>.

  • Chicago

    Thermo Fisher Scientific - Elemental Analyzers and Phase Analyzers. "Analysis of Cement According to ASTM C114". AZoM. (accessed May 17, 2022).

  • Harvard

    Thermo Fisher Scientific - Elemental Analyzers and Phase Analyzers. 2019. Analysis of Cement According to ASTM C114. AZoM, viewed 17 May 2022,

Ask A Question

Do you have a question you'd like to ask regarding this article?

Leave your feedback
Your comment type