Handheld XRF Analysis for Identification of Stains, Lead Paint, Zinc Primer, Galvanizing, and Aluminum Substrate

Handheld XRF (x-ray fluorescence) is a powerful, non-destructive technique that can identify and quantify multiple elements simultaneously. The instrument has a wide range of applications including metal identification, determination of the presence of lead, soil analysis, coating analysis, and stain analysis. XRF works by emitting an x-ray beam capable of displacing electrons in the inner shell of an atom. Electrons from the outer shells of the atom then replace the electrons lost from the inner shell, in a process called fluorescence. The amount of energy lost is a unique characteristic of each element, and can be used for identification and quantification.

Handheld XRF is an excellent technique to use in the field because the instrument is compact and easy to carry, it is a non-destructive technique, and each individual measurement only takes about thirty seconds. With each measurement, the major and trace elements are identified and the relative amounts determined. Knowing the relative amounts of elements present can help quickly confirm or reject a hypothesis. For example, one of the more common causes of brown/orange staining on marble tiles is pyrite (iron sulfide) inclusions that corrode in the presence of moisture and oxygen. This can be easily tested for with XRF by analyzing the surface of the marble that is stained, an area of the marble that is unstained, and then comparing the relative amounts of iron present. If the iron concentration in the stained area is significantly higher than the concentration of iron in the unstained area, this indicates the staining is caused by iron, likely from the pyrite, if there are inclusions present. The presence of pyrite can be easily confirmed microscopically.

Data collected from handheld XRF analysis.

Metals can also be identified using the Handheld XRF. The instrument can distinguish between different types of stainless steel, aluminum, lead, zinc, brass, copper, and galvanizing. It can be useful for projects where corrosion due to dissimilar metal is occurring. The presence of lead in metal alloys and coatings can also be analyzed for.

Overall, the handheld XRF is a compact and powerful instrument that can speed up analysis time. It is also a non-destructive method that is able to provide quick answers in the field and in the lab.

For more information contact Matt Anderson at 847.306.9240 or manderson@materialsanalyticalgroup.com. And for 15% off our services, let us know you have been reading our articles before receiving your invoice.

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