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Expert-Approved LIBS Analyzers for Carbon in Low Alloy Steel from Metal Analysis Group



In today's digital era, the use of advanced technologies like handheld X-ray Fluorescence (XRF) analyzers has revolutionized material analysis and verification within the supply chain. This innovation enables swift and efficient analysis of materials, significantly reducing the reliance on external laboratories. The ability to conduct immediate and rapid analysis has not only enhanced productivity but also elevated safety standards across various industries, ultimately leading to increased profitability and saved lives. Handheld XRF analyzers have gained widespread popularity in industrial settings due to their ease of use, affordability, and capability to verify compliance with stringent regulatory controls, particularly in the realm of metals.

Traditionally, mobile Optical Emission Spectrometry (OES) has been the preferred method for determining carbon content in materials like low alloy and stainless steels. However, recent advancements have introduced Handheld Laser Induced Breakdown Spectrometry (LIBS) analyzers, offering similar portability and size to handheld XRF instruments while promising the detection and quantification of elements across the periodic table.

Handheld XRF technology operates by irradiating the sample surface with a miniaturized X-ray tube, inducing the emission of specific secondary X-rays (fluorescence) from the sample elements. These emitted X-rays are then detected using a semiconductor detector, enabling rapid and non-destructive analysis. In contrast, Handheld LIBS technology utilizes a laser beam to create a plasma on the sample surface, vaporizing and atomizing the metals, which then emit element-specific light in the UV-Visible range. While XRF excels in analyzing most metallic materials, LIBS offers the advantage of detecting lighter elements such as carbon, making it suitable for applications requiring precise carbon quantification in steel grades.

The choice between handheld XRF and LIBS depends on the specific requirements of the analysis. Handheld XRF is ideal for accurate analysis of metallic materials, especially those containing high levels of alloying transition metals or refractory metals. It offers exceptional accuracy, even for aluminum and magnesium alloys, and is insensitive to sample size, shape, or roughness. On the other hand, Handheld LIBS is preferred for applications necessitating the detection of lighter elements like carbon, crucial for predicting weldability in carbon steels and ensuring the use of appropriate stainless steel grades in critical applications.

In industries where the integrity of critical assets is paramount, such as oil refineries, chemical plants, or power generation facilities, a combination of handheld XRF and LIBS is often utilized for comprehensive material verification. This approach ensures compliance with regulatory standards and enhances safety by enabling thorough analysis of various alloys, even in challenging environments or hard-to-reach spots.

In conclusion, handheld XRF and LIBS technologies complement each other, each excelling in specific areas of material analysis and verification. While XRF provides accurate analysis of metallic materials, LIBS offers the capability to detect lighter elements like carbon, enhancing the overall analytical capabilities in diverse industrial applications. By leveraging the strengths of both technologies, industries can ensure the reliability, accuracy, and safety of their materials, mitigating risks and optimizing operational efficiency.