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News from the fields – X-Raying for the core

A device that is exclusively useful for geological survey was developed by specialists of the All-Russian Scientific Research Institute of Technical Physics and Automation, (Moscow). This is a portable analyzer of substance composition.

It helps to simultaneously determine quickly, automatically and, most importantly – not in the laboratory conditions but directly whilst in the field – the content in the rock specimen of up to 20 chemical elements out of the elements placed in the D.I. Mendeleyev periodic table between calcium and bismuth. This includes almost the entire table: practically 4 entire periods - 60 elements, not taking lanthanoids into account.

The device action is based on the following – atoms stimulation by a small-size X-ray generator with further measuring of the “induced” secondary radiation. It is sufficient to take a geological core (a stone cylinder sown out of the rock), place it into the device (when assembled, it is no more than a covered rifle) – and all the rest will be done by the device automatically.

The smart device will independently run an X-ray generator over the surface of the core lying horizontally, the X-ray generator stimulating all atoms of the specimen within a radius of slightly less than 2 centimeters. The device will independently measure “secondary” fluorescent radiation: the atoms stimulated by X-ray, when coming back to the quiescent state, educe excess energy in the form of radiation, and the device records the radiation. All by itself the device will calculate the result, remember and display it on the PC display in the form of a simple and comprehensible diagram. So, it only remains for the geologist to extract the specimen and to provide the device with the necessary quantity of electric power.

The device capabilities are certainly not infinite. For instance, if some chemical element’s content in the specimen is less than one hundredth of a percent, the device would not notice the element. If the core is longer than a meter – the core will have to be divided into parts, otherwise in would not go in the device. The device will not be able to operate in severe frost, neither would it run in scorching heat: its operating temperature range is between minus 20 degrees C and plus 40 degrees C. It is able to act uninterruptedly for no more than six hours, then it needs rest. But it can be powered by both a 12V battery and the 220V alternating current.

On the other hand, the analyzer is light-weight – the weight of the sensor per se is only 2 kilograms, and that of the entire device is 12 kilograms. Of course, a PC should be added. However, all the equipment would easily find room even in a smallest expedition car, at the worst, the device can be carried even in a rucksack. And it is possible to find out on the spot, for example, the amount and kind of ferrous and non-ferrous metals hidden in the rock. There is no need to carry tons of specimen to analyze them later in town – at least rough analysis will be done directly in the field.

Theoretically, the device can be adapted for analysis (geologists call it sounding) of excavation walls, for sample analysis in the knocked off mass, sludge analysis, analysis of concentrates and finished product. Visitors of the recent spring exhibition “Analytics-2007” (Moscow, Sokolniki) could see one of such devices, and the most curious ones – could even try it in operation. But this analyzer is not a single one – experts found it to be so good that recommended that it should be entered into the state register of the RF measurement instrumentation and “multipliedi”. Geologists are pleased.

Nadezda Markina | alfa
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