Integrating a Novel Sample Digestion System into an Automated System

ColdBlock™ Digestion is a unique sample digestion technology that can dissolve geological rock samples into solution, enabling effective multi-element analysis. This technology addresses many of the major issues associated with existing sample digestion methods for both gold and base metals.

ColdBlock™ Digestion is a novel sample digestion technology that utilizes patented focused short-wave infrared radiation (FSWIR). IR lamps are used to emit high energy radiation (heat) to sample particles directly, while a cooling block creates a condensation effect designed to reduce the escape potential of volatile elements and acid.  

Completed in late 2019, the Amira P1196 project confirmed that ColdBlock™ Digestion could deliver a tangible business impact when used alongside analytical instrumentation. It was able to positively impact on the following areas, across all five industry sponsors (Figure 1):

  • Energy - reduced power consumption
  • Environment – reduced toxic waste (for example lead)
  • Safety - reduced exposure to harmful reagents
  • Financials - significant reduction in cost

It was also determined that in gold analysis, the ColdBlock™ Digestion method resulted in comparable analytical outcomes in comparison with fire assay, offering improved reproducibility alongside more consistent recovery.

ROI Conclusions P1196 for Gold Application.

Figure 1. ROI Conclusions P1196 for Gold Application.

The Proposal

The P1196A project will be managed collaboratively by Amira Global and ColdBlock™ Technologies with support from Questron Technologies Inc. and Queens University.

The project’s core objective is the effective incorporation of ColdBlock™ Digestion systems into an automation platform, which includes built-in ventilation while allowing for automated dispensing of up to four acids.  

A minimum of a 24 -Channel ColdBlock™ Digestion system is to be integrated into a Questron automation system, creating automated digestion and work-up system. This automated system will provide high-throughput in corrosive environments while being able to accommodate sample sizes up to 30 g/channel (Figure 2).  

Illustrative of Gen-3 CBD with Questron Vulcan.

Figure 2. Illustrative of Gen-3 ColdBlock™ Digestion with automation.

A minimum of five participating companies is necessary for the final project proposal to be triggered. This proposal will incorporate the following deliverables:   

  1. A minimum of a 24 channel system with automation:
    1. Automation platform for enclosed liquid handling
    2. Built-in ventilation
    3. Automated multi-acid dispensing
  2. Validation that the technology operates correctly
    1. Sample analysis of Real World samples and CRMs which will be validated by Queens University.
    2. Validating the accuracy, speed, and precision of the ColdBlock™  Digestion Automation System.
  3. An ROI including a Technical & Economic Assessment (TEA) report which will demonstrate the technology’s benefits in comparison with conventional methods.

Opportunity and Benefits

This project will be beneficial for a range of participants. For example:

  • Mining operations that have existing on-site laboratories and are seeking significant improvement in productivity, efficiency, and workplace safety.
  • Exploration stage mining operations looking for future on-site and near real-time analytics in order to enhance data turn-around, assist in more rapid exploration decision making, and improve the effectiveness of drilling targeting.
  • Commercial laboratories working with the mining industry that are looking to enhance safety, lower costs, and/or increase productivity.
  • Government regulatory agencies which are responsible for ensuring guidelines and regulations around the reporting of activity on exploration and mining licenses follow best practice.

This project will build on the benefits that were outlined in project P1196 via the following advancements:

  • Unparalleled sample throughput via automation
  • Considerable reduction in sample preparation costs via automation
  • Improved workplace safety through a reduction in harmful reagent handling
  • Enhanced efficiency and productivity via the automation of reagent addition

Commercialization Arrangements

ColdBlock™ Technologies and Questron Technologies Inc. own the ColdBlock™ Sample Digestion and Questron Automation intellectual property (IP) respectively.

Project Budget and Sponsorship

The project’s budget is $129,000 USD per sponsor. This is the total investment over the whole life of the project. It is expected that the project will begin in the third quarter of 2020, lasting approximately 12 months or less, per participant.

Mining operations, commercial laboratories, exploration operations, and government agencies can access sponsorship at the budgeted cost price. Any regulatory agencies that wish to sponsor will be offered a special sponsorship.

Amira Global delivers projects to its members, and a mechanism is in place which allows eligible sponsors to become members of Amira Global, remaining members of the duration of the project.

A $300,000 USD in-kind contribution of ColdBlock™ will be provided by the Ontario government. This includes:

  • $162,000 USD by the Government of Ontario, via OCE, for the ColdBlock™ product design, engineering, and automation
  • $115,000 USD by ColdBlock™ for product design and engineering
  • $25,000+ USD for participants to further support the implementation of Technology and Economic Assessment (TEA) / ROI evaluations

Expression of Interest

Any interested industry members who would like more information please contact  Nick Kuryluk (ColdBlock CEO at [email protected]) or Terry Braden (Amira Regional Manager at [email protected])

References and Further Reading

References can be found at the following link:

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by ColdBlock Technologies Inc.

For more information on this source, please visit ColdBlock Technologies Inc.


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