Inductive Coupled Plasma for Rookies: Shedding Light on The Technology Behind an Assay Analysis

When you sell your converters to a processor, you know your material will be assayed. That means that your converters go through analysis technology, like XRF benchtop, which we covered in our latest video. Now it’s time to uncover the science behind the Inductive Coupled Plasma (ICP) device. If you want to know everything about ICP, watch our video or keep reading.

What is ICP?

The Inductive Coupled Plasma machine measures a sample by light intensity to calculate how much platinum, palladium, and rhodium are in your converters. In the scrap converter processing industry, ICP is the golden standard for all assay analysis. Let’s take a look under the hood and explore how this device works.

How Does ICP Work?

The sample taken from your converters is turned into liquid form to pass through a small tube. From this tube, the sample is aspirated by a pump until it reaches the nebulizer, where it mixes with Argon gases to create small droplets that get into the spray chamber.

In the spray chamber, the finest droplets are separated from the biggest ones to maximize accuracy. Then, the finest droplets travel into the plasma, which is heated at around 10,000 degrees Celsius. At this incredibly hot temperature, the atoms of the sample absorb huge amounts of energy. And when the energy is expulsed from the plasma, it releases light.

Each element’s light intensity is on a different wavelength. That means to measure each element present in your material, processors will measure each wavelength.

ICP is a highly accurate device that allows toll-refiners to achieve maximum accuracy with your material. At PMR, our in-house laboratory utilizes both XRF and ICP devices to ensure maximum accuracy. We understand that having clear and accurate results allows you to make the most informed decisions for your material, whether it’s to hedge, toll, or request payment.

Get more information about Assay or XRF devices or visit our Resource Center.

Published: September 19, 2023
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