The era of measuring carbon content and other alloying elements in stainless steels and other corrosion-resistant alloys (CRAs) with a handheld analyzer has arrived. SciAps is the first technology company to succeed in miniaturizing laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy into a true handheld.
As we explain in our guest blog for Stainless Steel World News, stainless steel and corrosion-resistant alloy producers and fabricators are seeing increased requirements for verifying alloy grade and chemistry for their CRA product.
The practice originated in in down stream oil/gas (refining) in the 1970s as more specialty alloys were used for high temperature and pressure processes. In recent years, alloy verification has expanded into mid-stream, aerospace, heavy transportation and pharmaceutical processes.
Until 2017, if you had to verify alloys based on carbon content like 316L, 304H or low carbon nickel alloys, your only mobile option was spark OES, a bulky cart-mounted instrument package paired with heavy argon gas tanks. The LIBS technology introduced by the SciAps Z is truly handheld. The analyzer weighs 2kg (4.4 lb.), including an on-board battery and argon canister (2.5 cm diameter) good for 600 burns. It is easily carried anywhere.
While LIBS is still not "point and shoot" easy like XRF analyzers, the average operator can be trained in about half a day, and with regular usage, can perform reliable measurements for carbon content. SciAps offers lifetime free training for as long as the company owns the LIBS. At last, there's a handheld solution for those operators that either must measure carbon content for their alloy materials or want to get away from X-ray regulations.
SciAps is now completing a third year of commercial shipments of carbon testing units with the SciAps Z analyzer. API Recommended Practice (RP) 578 Third Edition now includes handheld LIBS for carbon testing. On the pipeline side, four independent studies have proven that the SciAps Z performs equivalent or superior to spark OES technology for carbon and CE. Almost every major pipeline owner/operator either uses a Z for their materials or requires their non-destructive testing contractors to use it. In fact, the SciAps created the Pipeline App when the largest owner/operator tested and accepted the Z for carbon and CE, with a specific testing protocol included in the app.On the downstream side, almost every major refinery uses the Z for carbon testing, as do the inspection companies that support their PMI/NDT programs.
An ASTM Method is in process and expected to be completed in 2020.