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Analytical Research Laboratory

Analytical Research Laboratory

Laboratory Capabilities

The Analytical Research Laboratory (ARL) provides quality data, flexibility, and rapid turnaround time in support of research activities at the EERC. The laboratory is equipped for routine and specialized analyses of inorganic and organic constituents using laboratory procedures and analytical methods that adhere to nationally and internationally recognized or approved standards and methods put forth by The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, ASTM International (ASTM), the International Organization for Standardization, Standard Methods, and other organizations. The range of ARL methods and instruments supports the chemical characterization of a variety of environmental and biological sample types, including fossil fuels, biomass, combustion by-products, geologic materials, fine particulate matter, groundwater, high salinity brines, wastewater, fish tissue, and plant materials.

Quality Assurance

The ARL has in place a laboratory management system (LMS) that is authorized and supported by EERC senior managers. LMS is constructed to meet the requirements of ISO/IEC 17025:2005 General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories. A laboratory quality manual defines the requirements and the organizational responsibilities for each major element of LMS and references the supporting documents needed to provide a comprehensive laboratory quality assurance program. Compliance with this manual and its supporting documents ensures that the ARL adequately fulfills client requirements; complies with applicable regulations, statutes, and contractual requirements; and follows relevant national/international methods and standards. Analytical methods are routinely monitored for precision and accuracy with certified reference materials from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the South African Bureau of Standards, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and other sources. The ARL participates in interlaboratory studies and proficiency programs such as the Coal and Ash Sample Proficiency Exchange™ (CANSPEX™) Program and a NIST/National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program. This participation allows the ARL to demonstrate competence in methods of analysis by comparing analytical results and techniques with other laboratories nationally and internationally.

Research Activities

  • Rare earth elements (REEs): With the recent rising demand for REEs in the fields of electronics, defense, and energy and the need for evaluating new domestic resources, the ARL has supported research at the EERC by developing methods for analyzing REE in several materials including coal, coal by-products, and sediments, as well as high salinity brines from oil and gas production. For solid materials analysis, a lithium metaborate/tetraborate flux high with temperature heating is used to ensure complete decomposition of silicate phases and REE host minerals such as monazite, xenotime, and zircon, followed by ICP-MS analysis. For high salinity brine analysis, an ion exchange process is used to reduce the level of dissolved solids followed by pre-concentration and ICP-MS analysis. The typical suite of REE analysis includes: Cerium, Dysprosium, Erbium, Europium, Gadolinium, Holmium, Lanthanum, Lutetium, Neodymium, Praseodymium, Samarium, Scandium, Terbium, Thulium, Yttrium, and Ytterbium.
  • Mercury: The ARL plays a major role in the support of mercury research at the EERC. With several EERC projects focusing on the occurrence and fate of mercury in combustion systems, as well as the evaluation of mercury control technologies, the ARL staff has gained considerable experience in mercury chemistry and analytical techniques for providing precise and accurate data.
  • Measurement of hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) from combustion systems: The ARL supports research at the EERC related to the fate of HAPs in combustion systems by thoroughly characterizing the fuel, ash by-products, and stack emissions. Several EERC projects have evaluated the impact of mercury control technologies on the fate of other inorganic HAPs, which include As, Be, Cd, Co, Cr, Mn, Ni, Pb, Sb, and Se.
  • Solid waste characterization: The toxicity characteristic leaching procedure (TCLP) and other leaching procedures are employed for determining the leachability of RCRA (Resource Conservation and Recovery Act) metals.
  • Biomass characterization: The ARL employs internationally accepted sample preparation and analytical methods from ASTM, EN, and ISO for the determination of major, minor, and trace constituents in biomass materials such as wood chips, switchgrass, corn stover, and other potential biofuels.
  • Biological sample analysis: To support research related to the health impacts of environmental pollutants, the ARL has capabilities for the preparation and analysis of biological tissues such as hair, blood, fish, and plant materials.
  • Water quality analysis: To support the activities of the EERC Plains CO2 Reduction (PCOR) Partnership, the ARL is testing the quality of water in areas where large-scale CO2 injection projects are under way. Over 40 parameters are being tested at each sampling location to help monitor the water quality over the course of the project.

Laboratory Equipment

  • 4200-ft², fully equipped, exceedingly clean laboratory with seven fume hoods
  • Thermo Scientific iCAP Q inductively coupled plasma – mass spectrometer (ICP-MS)
  • Perkin Elmer Optima 2100 ICP-AES
  • CETAC M6000A cold-vapor atomic absorption spectrometer (CVAAS) mercury analyzer
  • PS Analytical Millennium Merlin cold-vapor atomic fluorescence spectrometer (CVAFS)
  • PS Analytical Millennium Excalibur hydride generation atomic fluorescence spectrometer (HGAFS)
  • Varian Spectra AA-880Z graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrometer (GFAAS)
  • Mitsubishi TOX-100 Chlorine Analyzer with oxidative hydrolysis microcoulometry
  • Dionex ISC3000 ion chromatograph (IC) with conductivity detection
  • Dionex 2020 IC with UV-VIS, conductivity, and electrochemical detection
  • CEM MDS 2100 microwave with temperature and pressure control
  • Shimadzu TOC-L total organic carbon analyzer

Useful Links

Plains CO2 Reduction (PCOR) Partnership