Using Handheld XRF to Recycle Precious Metals in Catalytic Converters

As precious metals surge, the high values of platinum group metals (PGM), palladium (Pd), platinum (Pt), and rhodium (Rh), which are found in ceramic-based automotive catalytic converters has led to a thriving recycling market.

Quick and accurate determination of precious metals in the catalyst powder is needed in order to maximize testing throughput and profits. Handheld XRF (X-ray fluorescence) provides the answer.

Car catalyst empirical calibration is included as an option for each package for Hitachi’s X-MET8000 handheld XRF product range (Optimum, Expert, and the lower-priced Smart model).

They enable users to establish the presence of PGM accurately, straight from the box. Usually, the converter’s honeycomb core is ceramic-based, but its composition varies between automotive manufacturers.

This variation is taken into account by the X-MET8000’s car catalyst calibration, and if used in the catalytic converter it automatically compensates for elements originating from ceramics and steel core. There is no wasted time investigating and separating batches and no need for operator intervention.

The honeycomb core is removed and ground to a fine powder following the decanning from the metal surround. Accurate analysis of the Pt, Pd and Rh content is needed for either of these processes for accurate pricing.

What Did the Tests Find?

Hitachi High-Tech Analytical Science Ltd’s Applications Support Lab in Germany took part in a European proficiency test program for the analysis of two used auto catalytic converters.

A combination of catalyst reference materials was utilized to create the calibration in addition to well-analyzed samples that were supplied by leading global refiners. The results clearly showed that the X-MET8000 supplies reliable results for the fast screening of spent catalytic converters straight out of the box.

Why the X-MET8000 is Ideal for Catalytic Converter Analysis

Ease of use, accuracy and reliability are vital for a robust analysis program and the X-MET8000 from Hitachi High-Tech fits the bill perfectly for the following reasons:

Robust design: The X-MET’s robust design withstands the harshest weather conditions and environments. It includes rubber bumpers for protection against shocks, impact-resistant plastic housing with environmental sealing, and is splash water and dust proof (IP54 compliant).

Handheld technology: The X-MET is a completely portable, handheld instrument. This means it can be taken on site over the complete recycling process and has enough battery life to last all day.

The best technology for accurate results: The X-MET8000 employs XRF technology. XRF is an ideal method for catalytic converter analysis. It can determine the presence and composition of the precious metals accurately, including palladium, platinum, and rhodium.

The process can be performed on substrates with any form, including solids and powders, and it is completely non-destructive, which means it does not affect the material being measured adversely, nor do you have to sacrifice any of the valuable powder for analysis purposes.

Widespread use: The X-MET can be utilized for more than just catalytic converter recycling. The X-MET’s alloy calibration can be employed for metal sorting at scrap yards so that any scrap can be sorted quickly on site, including empty exhaust converter cans, manifolds and pipes, ensuring you get more value from the single instrument.

Car-catalyst calibration: The optional ‘car catalyst’ calibration can be pre-loaded on the instrument, making it ready to use right out of the box. The calibration automatically compensates for varying concentrations of ceramic elements by accounting for different compositions of converter from different manufacturers. This eliminates the requirement for operator invention between analyzing different batches.

Employing the rock-solid X-MET8000 makes recycling these valuable metals more profitable, supplying fast, reliable results and, ultimately, providing a cost-effective solution for precious metals analysis.

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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