Understanding materials an important factor in process success

Paul Boughton

For chemical companies to be able to store, move and process their materials effectively, an understanding of each material's particle characteristics is essential.

A new benchtop mass spectrometer is designed to offer process lab researchers, managers and engineers fast and precise gas analysis by incorporating a magnetic sector analyser designed for continuous operation in process development laboratories.

The product - the Thermo Scientific Prima BT bench top mass spectrometer - employs powerful scanning magnetic-sector technology. The system is designed to deliver superior analytical performance with high reliability and minimal maintenance requirements. The instrument has a 16-port rapid multi-stream sampler and a six-port automatic calibration manifold, making it one of the most precise, stable and accurate analysers available in its class. This new benchtop model sets the same high standard for online gas analysis as the original floor model, the Thermo Scientific Prima PRO process mass spectrometer, but with an attractive smaller footprint to serve a wider range of researchers.

"The Prima BT will be the first affordable mass spectrometer configured for lab-based process development. As such, we've designed it to contribute to novel process development that will ultimately extend to industrial scale," said Bob Muscat, vice president, environmental and process monitoring, Thermo Fisher Scientific. "By offering the only scanning magnetic-sector gas analyser in this market, Thermo Fisher Scientific has evolved the marketplace, enabling online analysis to replace off-line assays in helping to fill in the gaps of process understanding."

Intended specifically for process development labs in need of a flexible gas analyser, the Prima BT is designed to offer customers reliable multi-stream performance. The high-precision composition measurements mean fast, robust analysis that can be reliably multiplexed.

Additionally, Thermo Fisher anticipates that the Prima BT will provide complete analysis of multiple, complex gas streams for the purpose of tracking dynamic process variables. The company believes that the speed of measurement combined with precise analysis should enable a faster process understanding and, in turn, a shorter development cycle.

Additional performance specifications include: simple maintenance - as little as 15minutes to change inexpensive face seal; fast response - a zero-dead-volume design; tight temperature control for constant sample viscosity; and easy clean design.

Also new is the ASAP 2460 surface area and porosimetry analyser from Micromeritics. This incorporates a novel expandable system designed for upgradeable high-performance and high sample throughput. This versatile surface characterisation instrument can be configured as a two-, four-, or six-station bench top system depending on the user's throughput needs. The base ASAP 2460 is a two-port master control unit.

For additional throughput, two-port auxiliary units can be connected to the master unit expanding the system to either a four-port or six-port analyser. The instrument also includes enhanced software capabilities, data reduction features, and instrument monitoring.

Optimised for walk-up sample screening, all analysis ports can be operated independently and concurrently, allowing the user to load and unload samples at any time, regardless of the preparation or analysis stage. A new analysis can begin as soon as another is finished.

Long-duration dewars and isothermal jackets assure a stable thermal profile along the length of both the sample and the saturation pressure (P0) tubes throughout lengthy analyses. The P0 value may be entered, or measured either continuously or at selected intervals.

Surface zeta potential

A series of new application notes posted on the Malvern Instruments website describes the quick and easy measurement of surface zeta potential using the zeta potential planar cell for the Zetasizer Nano particle characterisation system (Fig.1).

Widely used as an indicator of the stability of particle suspensions and colloidal samples, surface zeta potential is traditionally measured using the specialist technique of streaming potential.

Malvern's surface zeta potential cell eliminates the need for a dedicated solution, allowing users to measure the zeta potential of surfaces in an aqueous medium on a standard instrument. The application note

'Determination of the zeta potential of the surface of PTFE', and others relating to different aspects of the measurement, can now be downloaded from Malvern's online knowledge centre: http://www.malvern.com/surface-zete-potential-ptfe

According to Malvern, adding the surface zeta potential measurement capability to Zetasizer Nano systems opens up new applications in areas of research that include understanding and optimising surface coatings and evaluating the effect of environmental changes on polymers or glass.

In addition to zeta potential measurements, the Zetasizer Nano instruments measure particle and molecular size from below a nanometre to several microns, electrophoretic mobility, and molecular weight.

Finally, the new FlowCAM-ES imaging particle analysis system from Fluid Imaging Technologies automatically detects, images, counts and measures metal particles in rinse water to verify the effectiveness of the rinse step in removing contaminants.

Operating on-line within the production or processing line, the newest FlowCAM automatically extracts, dilutes and runs samples of the wash water, taking a high-resolution, digital image of each particle detected and revealing its actual size and shape using more than 30 different measurement parameters, all in real-time.

The risk of further contamination or error due to human involvement is eliminated.