Sensor for Direct, Rapid and Complete Elemental Analysis of Coal

Technology Partner: Applied Spectra, Inc.Award Number: SC0017785
Project Duration: 6/12/2017 – 3/11/2018Total Project Value: $224,871

Key Technology Area: Enabling Technologies

This project will develop and demonstrate laser induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) as an analytical technology for the rapid, direct analysis of rare earth elements (REEs) and concomitants at concentration levels from parts per billion to percent at several stages of the coal value chain (coal, precleaned coal, ash, and non-ash). The configuration of an existing LIBS instrument will be improved for enhanced sensitivity and chemometric data analytics will be implemented for calibration. Simultaneous inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry will be used to validate LIBS data using National Institute of Standards and Technology reference materials. Finally, a field prototype instrument for automatic REE measurement

in the coal value chain will be designed. The developed technology will enable decisions for extracting REE, enhancing the coal value chain. The LIBS system is intended to replace the laborious, slow, and expensive acid digestion processes currently used to analyze coal and its by-products. The expanse (number of elements) and speed of the LIBS vastly exceed those of other available technologies. LIBS also does not require consumables and can be used in the field as an inline or transportable sensor. This instrument will be viable in other markets, including overall mining, environmental remediation, nuclear nonproliferation, forensics, advanced manufacturing, conflict minerals, and other industrial processing applications.

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