HEAVY METALS IN SOIL, WATER AND FOOD
The federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia has been shaped by the mining and chemical industry as hardly as any other German federal state. Until the 1970s deposits of waste without consideration of the effects on soils and waters were common. These deposits can lead to an accumulation of pollutants in soils, water or the air which is dangerous as well as for humans and the environment. Accumulations in plants and animals enrich these pollutants towards the end of the food chain and thus reach man.
The detection of such contaminants and contamination is far from easy as well as cost-intensive and time-consuming. The analysis of the composition of soil samples, water or food and feed is called environmental analysis. Existing technologies, which are currently applied in environmental analysis, are so far only suitable for analyzing small samples and require a complex sample preparations. Therefore, AiNT develops a measuring system that is capable of reliably and precisely analyzing heavy metal contents in large samples within minutes, because the measurement technique does not require a sampling preparation.
Within the context of the lead market competition EnergieUmweltwirtschaft.NRW, the federal state NRW is funding innovative developments in the field of environmental technologies with the help of European Union funds. Together with the Chair of Prof. Martin Frank (SCC) at KIT, AiNT is implementing the ZEBRA project (German acronym, for “non-destructive elemental analysis of raw materials and contaminated sites”) within this framework.
Within the ZEBRA research project, an innovative measurement system is being developed for environmental and hazardous substance analysis. This measurement system is based on the prompt and delayed gamma neutron activation analysis (P&DGNAA). The project includes the construction and test operation of the measurement system and the development of new analytical methods for determining the mass fractions of all elements of the periodic system.
The aim of the ZEBRA project is to develop a compact, innovative measuring device, to build it up and to test it experimentally. Within this project we will prove the technical feasibility and economic viability of this technology for environmental analytics. Therefore materials such as soil samples, animal feed and seed or water samples, are tested. We will investigate equivalence with existing analysis methods.
The measurement techniques for Non-destructive elemental analysis for environmental and hazardous substances are based on prompt and delayed gamma-neutron-activation-analysis (P&DGNAA). This technique can be allocated to the instrumental analysis since the multielementanalysis happens by the detection of gamma radiation induced by neutrons and the samples do not require a preparation.
The measurement system is compactly designed so that it can be operated in a laboratory. The sample material to be analyzed is introduced via a drawer without the need for an elaborate sample preparation.
The measurement has started. A neutron generator emits neutrons which enter the sample material. The atomic nuclei in the sample are excited by the neutrons and emit characteristic gamma radiation in the process of deexcitation. This gamma radiation is measured in a detector.
As the measurement time progresses, more and more gamma radiation is detected. The detector registers the specific energies of the gamma radiation and translates this into a spectrum. Based on the evaluation of the peaks within the spectrum, a qualitative and quantitative element analysis of the sample material can be carried out. The positions of the peaks provide information on which elements are present in the sample. Areas under the peaks allow the determination of the mass fraction of a respective element.
The ZEBRA measurement system enables a quick analysis of the elemental composition of samples from a large variety of application areas. Non-destructively and without complex sample preparation. The following list gives an overview of the wide range of applications of our measurement system.
ANIMAL FEED ANALYSIS & AGRICULTURAL ANALYSIS
HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCES IN CHILDREN´S TOYS
METAL AND ALLOY ANALYSIS
HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCES IN ELECTRONIC SCRAP
RoHS-CONFORMITY FOR THE PRODUCTION OF ELECTRONIC COMPONENTS
ANALYSIS OF CONCRETE SAMPLES AND DETERMINATION OF THE WATER/CEMENT-RATIO
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Dr.-Ing. Andreas Havenith at
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