Types of Sample Digestion: A Brief Guide to FSWIR-Assisted Digesters

Understanding the elemental composition of sample materials requires converting them into a format compatible with a specific mode of analysis. Optical emission spectrometry (OES) and mass spectrometry (MS) systems can offer insights into the elements present in a variety of sample types. However, before this happens, they must be decomposed into a homogenous solution and sample digestion is a critical step in this workflow.

Sample digestion is the process of decomposing a solid sample into a liquid state by dissolving it using reagents such as strong acids, alkalis, or enzymes. There are different types of sample digestion but usually, the mixture of sample and reagent is heated to the point of boiling which speeds up the dissolution process.

Analytical chemists use a varying range of digestion techniques to prepare a variety of materials for elemental analysis including ash, biological matter, cosmetics, metals, food products, ceramics, minerals, and pharmaceuticals, all of which are routinely decomposed via acid digestion before elemental analysis.

Benefits of Sample Digestion Using FSWIR

Sample digestion yields a solution which can be analyzed for elemental composition to inform on the original sample. The acceleration of sample digestion can impact operational throughput and cost-efficiency, productivity, and profits especially in high-value processes such as metal analysis.

The ColdBlock digester is a groundbreaking concept which employs focused short-wave infrared (FSWIR) radiation to target sample particles and accelerate the process of decomposition. This means that strong reagents such as hydrofluoric and perchloric acids are relied on less when breaking down sample matrices. The system is based on a FSWIR excitation source which energizes the particles directly, coupled with a cooling zone which promotes condensation.

This system generates repeatable digestions in a lot less time than that of traditional processes, usually providing homogenous liquid samples for analysis in minutes. This has created a versatile system that allows for increased automation, higher precision, improved sustainability, and enhanced occupational safety.

ColdBlock® Digesters Applications

This type of repeatable sample digestion leads to precise analytical results in many different industries such as mining, metal, environmental, food and agriculture. At ColdBlock, we work with industries that rely on sample digestion to conduct their testing. We deliver sample digestion technology for faster sample preparation with greater repeatable outcomes and enhanced safety.

  • Here are just a few examples of where ColdBlock Digesters excel:Agriculture: Fertilizers, soil, and organic samples quickly broken down in the FSWIR heating zone whilst vapors are minimized through the cooling zone via condensation. This promotes optimal sample retention and shorter timeframes.
  • Cosmetics: ColdBlock digesters are employed in testing cosmetics for concentrations of titanium or zinc. Stricter regulations mean that sample digestion process outcomes must be accurate and reproducible.
  • Environmental: ColdBlock digesters (link) are also well suited to preparing samples for environmental analysis objectives of detecting trace metals or metal contaminants.
  • Mining:  In mining ColdBlock has been able to demonstrate a great application for digesting geological samples faster and more repeatable. Two key areas of focus were Gold and base metal-containing ores.

The ColdBlock® digestion concept was developed to be suitable for many different applications. Contact us today to find out more.