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Fit-for-purpose analytics for resource technology?
Dreßler, S.; Gurlit, S.; Merchel, S.; Michalak, P. P.; Renno, A. D.; Sazonov, A. M.; Schenk, F.; Sterba, J. H.
Along the value chain (exploration, mining, processing, recycling) generally solid samples of complex matrix and non-stoichiometric composition need to be analysed. Besides spatially-resolved analytics applied to technology development, bulk analytics is mainly used for characterisation of value components.
In the search of the best-suited method, there are important questions to answer at first:
1. What is already known about the sample (matrix, stability, solubility, interferences)?
2. What data are needed (quantitative, semi-quantitative or qualitative)?
3. Are the concentrations of the elements of interest at a major, minor or trace level?
4. How urgently are the data needed and what are the financial restraints?
Here, two different projects are selected to demonstrate a typical search for fit-for-purpose analytics spanning from commonly available Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS) to more rarely applied Instrumental Neutron Activation Analysis (INAA). These are two examples of primary and secondary raw materials (intermediate goods and waste), which would open possibilities for side products of critical metals, e.g. REE, PGE, Re, Ga.
The first project deals with a natural mineral sample of molybdenite (MoS2) taken from an open pit mine in Kačaran (Armenia) in use for Mo and by-product Re mining. Rhenium is important for catalytic and petrochemical industry, metallurgy, and aviation, e.g. it is used for steel reinforcement in turbine blades for aircrafts [1,2].
The second project focus on secondary raw materials from the non-bauxitic production of aluminium and alumina in Siberia. The analysed materials were taken from different stages of the production process: The final product alumina (Al2O3), waste products like red mud (mainly calcium carbonate and SiO2), sodium salts (e.g. Na2SO4) and anode slag (carbon, Cu-Al alloy, Al) and by-products like wollastonite ceramics (CaSiO3) and soda-potash (K2CO3/Na2CO3).
Of course, there are pros and cons of every analytical method (Total Reflection X-ray Fluorescence (TXRF), ICP-MS, INAA) for different samples yielding to clear conclusions about the best-suited method for future analytical tasks. For example in the case of Re, INAA is identified as method of choice for such kind of analysis due to high sample throughput, an easy and quick sample preparation and a low detection limit (0.26 μg/g).
 A. Brumby, M. Verhelst, D. Cheret, Catalysis today. 2005, 106, 166-169.
 C. Zhan-Fang, Z. Hong, Q. Zhao-hui, Hydrometallurgy. 2009, 97, 153-157.
Keywords: Resource Technology; raw materials; INAA; Re; aluminium production
GDCh-Wissenschaftsforum Chemie 2015, 30.08.-02.09.2015, Dresden, Deutschland