X-ray fluorescence (XRF) offers excellent efficiency in alloy sorting and analysis. It requires minimal sample preparation being a truly non-destructive method and offers more versatility than OES.
XRF is suitable for analyzing all existing alloy types, making it a welcome technology in a construction site, a scrapyard, foundry and several other heavy engineering enterprises.
XRF analyzers can drastically reduce analysis time and cost. Unlike conventional analysis in which each new measurement adds cost, XRF cost is 99% initial capital expenditure, which means that each new measurement is more cost effective.
Alloy XRF Analysis Basics And Facts To Know
The advent of the SDD detector has resulted in XRF elemental detection range being extended to Na to U and covers almost the whole periodical table. Most of the alloy elements come within this detection range. Since most of the alloys are homogeneous structures and as such are 100% x-ray detectable, they are ideally suited for XRF analysis. The analysis of alloys is done from tens to several hundreds of microns deep into the sample based on the alloy density.
XRF Analyzers For On-Site And Laboratory-Based Analysis
There are several points to consider when choosing between a bench-top and or a handheld XRF analyzer.
Benchtop analyzer is shown in Figure 1
Figure 1. ElvaX mini benchtop analyzer. Image credit: Elvatech Ltd.
The advantages of benchtop analyzers are:
- Higher sensitivity to light elements because of the helium purge option
- Customizable software allowing to adjust measurement parameters such as x-ray tube current, filter type, etc.
- Advanced analytical tools excellent for analyzing non-standard alloys
- Convenient measurement of small and uneven samples
The disadvantages of benchtop analyzers are:
- The need to get samples from site to laboratory
Handheld analyzer ElvaX ProSpector is shown in Figure 2.
Figure 2. ElvaX ProSpector handheld XRF analyzer. Image credit: Elvatech Ltd.
Advantages of handheld analyzers are:
- On-site analysis
- Extra intuitive software that does not require any XRF theory or extended knowledge.
Disadvantages of handheld analyzers are:
- Lower sensitivity to light elements due to absence of helium purge
- The need to synchronize with a PC for more detailed spectra Analysis
- Long measurement times difficult without use of a lab-stand
Handheld XRF Analyzer - ElvaX ProSpector
The ElvaX ProSpector is ideally suited for quality control, sorting and quality assurance when it comes to alloy analysis. Due to a high-resolution SDD detector and a high count rate ProSpector informs the sample’s alloy grade and elemental composition in seconds.
Using primary beam filters and automatic selection of optimal excitation modes for different alloy types enables ProSpector to improve the signal to background ratio. Analysis takes a few seconds and data is displayed on the PDA screen. In case the required results are compared with known alloy grades, they are contained in an integrated alloy library. The ProSpector handheld analyzer weighs just 1,4kg and can operate for up to 8hours on a sinlge battery charge and has a rugged design.
The key features are:
- Suitable for sorting as well as for instant high accuracy analysis
- Detects concentrations from ppm to percent
- Accurate Light element analysis option 8h operation on battery
Benchtop XRF Analyzer ElvaX
The ElvaX is a versatile system for laboratory-based analysis offering superior quality in alloy analysis. The software combines intuitiveness and usability with several powerful analytical tools that can be used by an advanced user. The detection range is from Na to U. Helium purge function increases ElvaX sensitivity to light elements (Na, Mg, Al, Si, P, S) as much as up to 10 times.
ElvaX can be equipped with an 8-position autosampler, which moves samples to the analytical window automatically.
The features of ElvaX are:
- Superior light element detection due to helium purge
- Open customizable software
- Accurate Light element analysis option
- Camera for precise sample
Carbon And Alloy Steel Analysis Using XRF
One of the most widely used materials in large enginerering structures is carbon steel. As the name suggests, the key alloying constituent is carbon. XRF is required when there is a need for sorting carbon steel from other alloys such as in a scrap metal industry or during incoming inspection.
XRF is indispensable for analyzing this kind of steel as alloyants such as Mn, Ni, Mo, V, etc, which determine steel properties and cost, can be accurately measured within seconds.
Aluminum Alloys Analysis Using XRF
In aluminum alloy analysis, elements such as copper, manganese, silicon, zinc need to be detected. One of the key and complex tasks in the analysis of aluminum alloys is the right detection of Mg and Si (so called light elements) due to the low energy of their characteristic peaks and their closeness to the aluminum spectrum peak. Accurate detection of silicon and magnesium is needed for identifying some 4000 and 5000 aluminum alloy series. Elvatech XRF analyzers are capable of distinguishing all aluminum alloys from 1000 to 8000 Series.
Copper Alloy Analysis Using XRF
Copper alloys are represented by bronzes and brasses. XRF is very well suited for copper analysis due to its simplicity and speed. The main components of copper alloys are Zn, Sn, Fe, Mn, Al, Si, P, Sb, Pb and Ni. Cu and Ni alloys are used where high corrosion resistance and excellent mechanical properties are required.
Nickel Alloy Analysis Using XRF
Nickel alloys are used in cases where exceptional strength and temperature and corrosion resistance are needed. Nickel is the base alloying element of a number of superalloys such as Waspalloy, Inconel, Hastelloy etc. Typical applications are in aerospace, petrochemical and military industries.
Four main types of Nickel alloys are :
- Pure nickel alloys - at least 99% of nickel;
- Nickel-copper alloy - commercial name Monel
- Nickelchromium-iron alloys - for example Waspalloy, Astroloy, Inconel, which due to contents of Al, Ti and Si, allow for precipitation hardening
- Temperature resistant alloys of Ni and Al, Ti, V, Co, Mo, W, Nb, Zr for the use in extreme mechanical and temperature conditions
Titanium Alloy Analysis Using XRF
Titanium alloys are known for their lightness, hardness and temperature resistance. The main applications are military, aerospace, sports equipment, medical industry.
Titanium components in such applications are usually high fidelity parts and non-destructive analysis is especially important in such applications. XRF provides instant and accurate analysis of all titanium grades.
Elvatech Ltd. is an R&D enterprise based in Kiev, Ukraine.
Since 1991 it has been engaged in scientific instrument-making specializing in design and manufacture of electronic, vacuum, and spectrometric equipment, automated data collection and processing systems, and analytical software. It's products are used in industrial, research and academic laboratories worldwide.
This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Elvatech.
For more information on this source, please visit Elvatech.