SciAps introducing family of handheld analyzers for in-field analysis of lithium and rare earth elements
18 October 2021
SciAps, already a global leader in handheld analyzers for fossil fuel-based energy industries, now offers its technology to the emerging electric vehicle, strategic metals, and overall green economy industries with a targeted line of next-generation handheld XRF (X-Ray Fluorescence Spectroscopy) and LIBS (Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy) analyzers, in response to predicted growth in exploration, production and recycling of both lithium and rare earth elements.
XRF works by striking a sample with an x-ray beam from an x-ray tube, causing characteristic x-rays to fluoresce from each element in the sample. A detector measures the energy and intensity (number of x-rays per second at a specific energy) of each X-ray, which is transformed into an elemental concentration using either a non-standard technique such as fundamental parameters or user-generated calibration curves. The presence of an element is identified by the element’s characteristic X-ray emission wavelength or energy. The amount of an element present is quantified by measuring the intensity of that element’s characteristic X-ray emission.
LIBS operates by using a pulsed, focused laser that is fired at a sample with sufficient pulse energy as to create a plasma around the area struck. Bound atomic electrons are striped from the atoms comprising the material. As the plasma cools, atoms recombine with electrons and in the process emit light in the UV, optical and IR regimes. LIBS has been used for more than 30 years as a laboratory technique, capable of analyzing any element in the periodic table. Recently, the technique has been miniaturized into a handheld device (HH LIBS) capable of analyzer any element, depending on the spectrometer range chosen for the device.
Designer of the first handheld analyzer that performs general alloy analysis and carbon in steels and stainless, SciAps remains the market leader with thousands of these devices in use daily for alloy and weld chemistry validation in the energy sector. Now, with the steady march toward vehicle electrification and the green economy, SciAps offers the only handheld analyzers that perform in-field lithium testing, as well as allow users to measure both light and heavy REEs, from exploration and analysis through processing and compliance.
SciAps is introducing multiple product offerings to address field exploration, refining and eventual recycling of these vital strategic metals.
First, SciAps has developed the LIBS (laser) Z-901 Lithium analyzer, purpose-built for measuring Li in rocks and brines, and the Z-902 Lithium analyzer with an extended spectrometer range for those users who need to additionally measure boron (B), magnesium (Mg), sodium (Na) and perhaps other metals in brines. SciAps has also upgraded its flagship Li analyzer, the Z-903 model (formerly Z-300), for those users who want to measure Li plus any other stable element in the periodic table.
These lithium analyzers are the only handheld devices capable of making in-field lithium measurements in rocks, ores, powders, or brines, SciAps says.
SciAps developers have brought their same innovative vision to the renewables, EV and strategic metals applications.
SciAps is introducing a new XRF analyzer for REEs. The X-555 uses a 55 kV X-ray tube (compared to other analyzers with a 50 kV tube), making it the most powerful X-ray tube ever developed for handheld XRF analysis. With the higher voltage, the X-555 effectively analyzes all of the light REEs including lanthanum (La), cerium (Ce), praseodymium (Pr), neodymium (Nd) samarium (Sm); plus heavy REEs europium (Eu), and gadolinium (Gd).
The standard beam analysis in the unit provides optimal analysis for heavy REE yttrium (Y), which is a widely used pathfinder of the other heavy REEs. The standard beam also analyzes 30-plus low atomic number elements, transition and other heavy metals of interest to the mining community.
SciAps recognizes that no single tool solves every problem. For example, the X-555 measures transition, heavy metals and REEs, but handheld XRF (X-ray) technology is incapable of analyzing Li, B, Na, C, F, Be and other elements with very low atomic numbers. Conversely, while LIBS (laser) technology can analyze every element in the periodic table, for many transition and heavy elements, HHXRF offers superior analytical performance and is easier to use.
“One Box” Options. For users who need optimal analysis for every element and sample type, SciAps offers a family of “One Box” packages. The One Box concept combines both an XRF and a LIBS analyzer, designed to share the same batteries, charger and other accessories, allowing for easy field compatibility of both technologies. The One Box package provides an economic solution for strategic and EV metals critical to green economy industries.
Battery Metals in One Box includes SciAps Z-901 Lithium for rocks, ores, and brines, or Z-902 Lithium if B, Na, and other metals are required for brines; it pairs with SciAps X-505 for manganese, cobalt, and nickel. One Box for Battery Metals, EV and Strategic Metals includes the same LIBS option, but pairs with X-555 for widest range of transition and heavy metals down to Mg, plus REE and battery metals Mn, Ni and Co. Don’t need REE performance? Then substitute the X-505 or X-550 instead.
About the Instruments. Built on the Android platform, SciAps instruments operate with the ease of a smart phone using app-based software that assures quality testing by every operator. Built-in Wifi and Bluetooth, with GPS capability, allow users to print, email, and connect to virtually any information management system for efficient, real-time results and full-featured reporting. Automatically merge XRF and LIBS tests with SciAps Cloud Services, and easily manage operations from anywhere.
SciAps LIBS instruments, at just 3.5 lbs. (1.6 kg) with battery, have an internal camera for precise targeting of analysis locations; a macro camera for photo-documentation of samples, reading bar codes and QR codes; a patented “sample sensor” that allows Class 1 operation (subject to LSO approval); high-resolution, rear-facing display for easy results viewing; rugged metal body for maximum durability; a tapered, narrow snout for difficult-to-access test locations; and user-replaceable argon that provides hundreds of tests at pennies per test.
SciAps XRF instruments, at just 2.8 lbs. (1.3 kg) with battery, are the lightest handheld X-ray analyzers ever made, delivering speed and high precision in a balanced, rugged device. Premium performance begins with the 55 kV X-ray tube and up to three automated beam settings, designed for optimal performance across the entire periodic table from Mg to U. SciAps XRF delivers best-in-class light element performance for ultra low detection limits of elements like Mg, Al and Si while also packing enough power to achieve impressive precision on heavy elements like pathfinders Ag, Sn, Sb, and rare earth elements. Combined with the latest large area silicon drift detector technology and super tight X-ray geometry, SciAps X-555 provides the best analytical performance with the shortest test times.