Applications in Mineral Industry

Minerals are geological materials which are mined for their commercial value used for their physical and chemical properties. Sri Lanka has many industrial minerals such as dolomite, feldspar, ball clay, kaolin, calcite, gemstones, mica, mineral sands, graphite, limestone, phosphate rock, quartz, and silica sand. Examples of industries utilizing these minerals include coating and ink, paper, steel, rubber, steel, plastic, medicinal, textile and aircraft industry. We at SLINTEC Analytical Services provide qualitative and quantitative analysis for the elements present in minerals. We even conduct solid state structural properties as well as chemical state depth analysis of minerals. Some applications in the mineral industry that are possible to be carried out at the SLINTEC premises using the equipment available for analysis are given below.

Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM)

• Identification of fine scale mineral phases, elemental analysis by EDX and EELS studies, crystalline and amorphous phase analysis by electron diffraction patterns and high resolution images 
• Microstructural characterisation of minerals

Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM)

• Study the morphology of the 3-dimensional material using secondary electrons
• Automated measurement of grain size distributions, morphological features, nearest neighbour distances, and phase coverage by area using back scattered electron (BSE) detection
• Quantification of elemental composition using EDX analysis

Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM)

• Atomically resolved exploration of surface structures
• Examination of dissolution, precipitation and growth on surfaces of both single crystals and particles
• Examination of hydration, acid- base behaviour, electrostatic charging for surfaces in moisture or in aqueous dispersion of minerals 

Optical Microscopy

• Identification of minerals and their textural relations

Thermogravimetric Analysis (TGA)

• Determination of the amount of weight change of minerals and mineral compositions as a function of controlled temperature, in an atmosphere of high purity nitrogen or compressed air

Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC)

• Determination of the structural water content of minerals
• Determination of the temperature stability of minerals
• Detection of small quantities of different mineral phases occurring as impurities

Dynamic Mechanical Analysis (DMA)

• Thermomechanical characterisation of mineral filler based nanocomposites

Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR)

• Structural composition study of clay minerals based on the presence of various functional groups
• To study the structure, composition and structural changes upon chemical modification of clay minerals and composites

Raman spectroscopy

• Identification of minerals using Raman scattering
• Molecular morphology characterization of Carbon materials

Fluorescenece Spectroscopy

• Used to characterise fluorescent minerals and authenticate different materials
• To identify impurities present on minerals

X-Ray Powder Diffraction (XRD)

• Analysis of crystalline phases, crystalline size and phase composition of minerals
• To quantify the proportion of minerals present in a mixture

Inductively Coupled Plasma- Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS)

• Detection of elements of minerals and earth materials
• Study of isotopes and trace elements in minerals

Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy (AAS)

• To determine the concentration of elements (mainly as cations) of minerals

X-Ray Fluorescence Spectroscopy (XRF)

• Identify elements present in the minerals
• To determine the relative content and percentage of minerals found in samples

CHNS Analysis

• Identification of C, H, N and or S content 

Energy Dispersive X-Ray Spectroscopy (EDX)

• Qualitative analysis of elemental distribution in mineral samples

Particle Size Analysis

• Determine the particle size distribution of mineral powders

X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy 

• Useful in geochemical studies and mineral characterisation