Malvern Panalytical Scientific Award 2023

Our 2023 Scientific Award is now open – and there’s a €5,000 prize for the best entry.
Entries close August 31st – you’ve still got time!

Safety, Quality, and Consistency: How Machine Vision Applications are Transforming the Food Industry

Safety, Quality, and Consistency: How Machine Vision Applications are Transforming the Food Industry

Every business has to maintain certain standards, but few have more stringent requirements than food industry operators. 

Any quality issues they experience can have extremely serious consequences, legally, financially and to their reputation. This means they have almost no margin for error. 

This means careful monitoring and robust controls must be built into every step of their production processes.

While these have traditionally been manual interventions, food industry operators are increasingly turning to technology to manage quality assurance. In particular, machine vision applications have grown significantly over recent years to cover most elements of food production. 

Here we take a closer look at what machine vision is and its many different applications in the food industry.

What is Machine Vision?

As the name suggests, machine vision allows industrial equipment to see what it is doing. 

It is a broad term for a range of technologies that analyse visual inputs and respond based on their analysis. A foundation of industrial automation, it was first introduced in the 1970s and has helped significantly improve the speed and quality of production processes.

Machine Vision and the Food Industry

Several factors are driving steady growth in machine vision applications within the food industry.

Most significantly, in Australia operators need to meet strict standards regarding the production, handling, processing, and packaging of food. Failing to meet these standards can result in substantial fines, licensing issues, and even criminal convictions

Food safety incidents can also have a big impact on a business’s reputation, with many businesses being forced to close after a major quality issue.

Profit margins within the food industry are also quite volatile and generally very tight. As such, operations need to be designed to be as efficient as possible, without putting quality at risk.

This is where technology, and particularly machine vision, can help. It provides a cost-effective way to monitor the quality of all produce and packaging, and ensure consistent standards are maintained. When compared to manual monitoring, it is also much more reliable and can operate at significantly faster speeds.

What’s more, as machine vision technology has developed, it has become capable of far more complex analysis and hazard identification. As a result, it can now detect minute defects and contaminants that are not visible to the human eye. 

It can also do this without damaging, or even touching, the produce, which helps maximise yields and reduce wastage.

Common Applications of Machine Vision

Maintaining the quality and consistency of food products requires careful monitoring and management of every step of the production process. Machine vision technology can support this, with different functionality adapted to suit a range of different applications.

Harvesting and Sorting

Hyperspectral imaging can be used to detect diseases in plants and measure the key indicators of ripeness in a range of different crops. Machine vision can also enable harvesting equipment to better locate produce (e.g. grapes and other berries) and pick it without damaging it. This can help increase the quality of produce while also reducing wastage.

Once a crop has been harvested, machine vision can also be used to sort the produce into different grades. It can quickly assess the colour, shape, and size of individual items against predetermined minimum standards. 

It can also identify imperfections and blemishes, and assess other important quality measures like water and sugar content, pH level, and macronutrient profile.

Identifying Foreign Objects

Even with the tightest quality controls in place, there is still a risk of unwanted material infiltrating produce and packaging. 

Machine vision can help identify when this has happened, allowing the foreign objects to be removed before further processing. It can also help identify cross-contamination, which is particularly important for facilities that handle common allergens, like nuts.

Spectral imaging can also be used to identify contamination that is not visible to the human eye. For example, it can identify the early signs of mould development and measure the levels of harmful bacteria, like salmonella and E. coli. Best of all, as it is a non-destructive form of testing, it can do this without damaging the produce.

Inspecting Packaging

Correct packaging is crucial to ensuring that the quality of produce is maintained for as long as possible. 

To help with this, machine vision can be used to confirm that all packaging materials are clean and structurally sound. It can also confirm that the correct packaging components have been used and that everything is properly sealed, which also helps prevent wastage.

During the packaging process, machine vision can also be used to improve the accuracy of batching. It can confirm that the number, weight, or volume of produce in each package is consistent. It can also identify packages that have been underfilled, allowing them to be removed or remediated before shipping.

Tracking and Labelling

Within the food industry, and more generally, one of the most widespread applications of machine vision is supporting inventory management. It can be used to monitor the inputs and outputs of the production process, compiling a tracking history of each finished product.

In the event of any serious quality issues, this can help identify the root cause and the scale of its impact.

Machine vision technology can also be used to improve the quality, consistency, and accuracy of product labelling. 

It can track key data and ensure that all codes, dates, and product information are correct. It can also identify products that are mislabelled or have damaged or unreadable labels, allowing them to be fixed before shipping.

Choosing the Right Tool for Your Machine Vision Needs

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If you’re looking for a fantastic product to help you leverage machine vision technology, the Hyperspec MV.X is sure to impress. 

The simple but effective design of this powerful tool makes it the perfect choice for concentric imaging and line-scanning. More than just a camera, its fast, embedded processing enables advanced model development and provides actionable results in real-time.

For more information on potential machine vision applications within the food industry, or to get your own Hyperspec MV.X, contact us today.

The Many Applications of FTIR Spectroscopy

The Many Applications of FTIR Spectroscopy

Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) Spectroscopy is one of a handful of techniques commonly used to analyse the molecular structure of different materials. While its adoption may be more recent than other, similar techniques, its use has quickly become more widespread. 

This is largely due to the unique benefits that this type of analysis can provide.

Here we take a closer look at the applications of FTIR spectroscopy across several key industries. As part of this, we also explore why FTIR is the preferred technique for such a wide range of analysis activities.

How does FTIR spectroscopy work?

Every material interacts with different wavelengths of light in its own unique way.

Acknowledging this, FTIR spectroscopy works by applying mid-infrared light (approximately 4000-400 cm^-1) to a sample. The absorption of different wavelengths is then measured and interpreted to provide a detailed analysis of the molecular composition.

As part of the interpretation, the Fourier transform mathematical function is used to convert the detector signal from a time domain to a frequency domain. This allows the entire spectrum to be analysed simultaneously, rather than on an individual wavelength basis.

Strengths of FTIR spectroscopy

When compared to other, similar techniques, FTIR spectroscopy offers a few unique benefits.

Most significantly, being able to analyse the full spectra simultaneously increases the speed and efficiency of testing. As most other techniques analyse individual wavelengths, multiple readings are needed to collect the same data as a single test using FTIR spectroscopy. FTIR testing has been made even easier by the introduction of handheld tools, which allow analysis to be quickly completed on-site.

The breadth of analysis also means FTIR spectroscopy generally provides more accurate results than other similar techniques. It can also provide a more detailed breakdown of the composition of a sample. This includes the identification of both the nature and concentration of trace elements and potential contaminants.

Applications of FTIR Spectroscopy

Acknowledging the accuracy of results and level of detail provided, the applications of Fourier Transform spectroscopy have grown quickly, as new industries embrace this technique. This has been spurred on by the introduction of handheld FTIR tools, which have revolutionised many different types of testing.

Some of the most common applications of Fourier Transform Infrared spectroscopy include:

Identification of valuable minerals

In the high-risk, high-reward mining industry, reliable data on the mineral composition of a site is invaluable. From exploration and operational design to extraction and ongoing management, mineral analysis plays a crucial role throughout the mining process. 

FTIR spectroscopy is one of a few tools that is widely used to inform both exploration and operational activities.

During the exploration phase, it can help assess both the quality and quantity of valuable minerals present in an area. By providing a detailed analysis of the overall site composition, it also supports accurate calculation of the potential value of a deposit and planning of optimal extraction methods.

Once mining activity has begun, regular FTIR testing can help provide important insight into operational performance. By analysing mineral concentration and purity in mined materials, it helps track output against projections and informs decisions on future mine activities.

Monitoring of quality in agricultural environments

Soil quality is a major consideration for agricultural businesses, with quality improvements linked to increased yields and more efficient farming operations. FTIR spectroscopy provides an accurate assessment of the nutrient profile of soil, allowing producers to optimise their activities and plan effective land management interventions.

The accuracy of FTIR testing means it can also identify contaminants, even at low levels. This limits the risk of harmful substances, like heavy metals and toxic chemicals, transferring to produce and posing a threat to human health.

Testing of polymers and surface coatings

In Australia, the categorisation of polymers is a key component of their regulation and management. As part of this, testing is required to understand their chemical composition and the potential impact on human health.

More than just meeting regulatory requirements, the detailed analysis provided by FTIR spectroscopy also supports quality assurance in polymer manufacturing. Once a clear profile of the required chemical composition has been established, regular testing can be used to ensure this standard is maintained.

It also supports the early identification of potentially harmful contaminants, both in polymers and surface coatings. Understanding the chemical makeup can also help you determine important properties of these materials, like their thermal stability.

Detection of degradation

As some materials age, their chemical structure begins to break down and produce new materials, known as degradation products. 

For example, many paints are made up of inorganic pigments and oil-based binding agents, which degrade into metal soaps over time. FTIR spectroscopy can be used to analyse these soaps, providing important details about the paint’s history and informing conservation plans.

Similarly, as many metals and polymers age, their density decreases, and degradation products (like rust) can form. This impacts the performance of these materials and, depending on how they are being used, can pose safety risks. FTIR testing can help identify early signs of degradation and support planning of proactive maintenance and repair works.

Authenticating artworks and artefacts

Some experts claim that up to 40% of “big name” artworks for sale at any given time are fakes

Given the significant sums of money involved in these sales, there is a lot of interest in weeding out the forgeries. FTIR spectroscopy can assist with this, helping to confirm the age of different objects and identifying the scope and nature of any restoration works.

By analysing the chemical makeup, FTIR testing allows art experts to match the materials used with the alleged age of a piece. For metallic artefacts, the level of degradation can also be measured to determine its likely history. 

Importantly, because FTIR is non-destructive, this testing can be done without damaging the potentially priceless object.

Choosing the best FTIR device for your needs

The Many Applications of FTIR Spectroscopy 2

Whatever application of FTIR spectroscopy you require, the Agilent 4300 Handheld FTIR is the tool for the job. 

With its lightweight design and point-and-shoot functionality, it is easy to see why this is the most popular portable FTIR device on the market. It is also highly versatile, with an interchangeable interface that allows you to easily switch between applications.

For more information on how FTIR spectroscopy could help you, or to purchase your own Agilent 4300, contact us today.

Is There an Alternative to Mineral Analysis Laboratories? Introducing Portable NIR

Mineral analysis laboratories have long played a critical role in the mining exploration process. 

Supporting both greenfield and brownfield activities, the data they produce has informed everything from investment decisions to production design. And, with mining being such big business here in Australia, the economic impact of their output can be enormous.

However, over recent years, there has been an increasing interest in finding reliable alternatives to lab testing. In particular, there has been a push to identify solutions that support on-site analysis and provide reliable, credible data quickly and more cost-effectively.

Are There Portable Analysis Solutions for Testing Minerals?

Tools that can support on-site chemical analysis have been in use in some environments, like defence and agriculture, since the late 1990s. However, as the data they produced was of a notably lower quality than what could be achieved through lab testing, adoption was limited.

Thankfully, this technology has advanced significantly over the last couple of decades. As a result, the quality of analysis that can be carried out using handheld tools is now on par with lab testing.

Limitations of Lab Testing

While lab testing of mineral samples provides many benefits, it also presents some challenges for modern mining exploration operations.

Inconvenient Sample Preparation

Most significantly, samples need to be collected, prepared, and sent to the lab for analysis. Depending on the number of samples required, this can be an extremely time-consuming process. It can also take weeks for samples to be analysed and results to be provided, which inhibits the speed of exploration activities.

High Cost for Results

There is also a cost associated with both the preparation and analysis of each sample. This makes quantitative analysis a prohibitively expensive exercise, particularly across larger areas, and means exploration efforts need to be quite targeted. This is further exacerbated by the limited capacity of most labs, which generally cannot be scaled up to meet increased testing requirements.

Destructive Testing

Most lab testing is also destructive, which means that the sample is damaged as part of the analysis process. While the amount of material destroyed is generally nominal when compared to the total deposit volume, this wastage still adds to the overall cost of lab testing activities.

How Portable Analysis Compares

As the quality of data produced by portable analysis tools has increased, the other benefits these solutions provide have become more obvious. In particular, the ability to conduct testing in the field has helped significantly speed up the exploration process. 

Instant and Cost-Effective Results

As results are available almost instantly, testing what would take weeks in a lab can now be completed in just seconds in the field.

Portable analysis is also much more cost-effective than lab testing. Once you have invested in obtaining the required equipment, the ongoing operation and maintenance costs are minimal. This means that, the more you use a portable analysis tool, the lower the cost per test.

In addition to being financially beneficial, this makes quantitative analysis, even over larger areas, a much more appealing prospect. 

Unlimited Analysis

The number of tests you can complete using a portable analysis tool is virtually unlimited, allowing you to broaden the scope of your exploration activities. Most tools also support increasingly targeted testing, which means you start by casting the net wide, and allow the data to guide your efforts.

Non-Destructive Testing

Portable testing methods are also non-destructive. This means that samples do not need to be extracted or prepared before the analysis can be carried out. It also reduces wastage, further bringing down the cost of your exploration activities.

Introducing Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (NIR)

There are several portable mineral analysis technologies that can be used to support exploration activities, with each better suited to certain applications. Among these, Near-Infrared Spectroscopy, or NIR, stands out for its rapid, reliable results and wide range of applications.

As the name suggests, NIR technology makes use of wavelengths that are near the infrared region on the electromagnetic spectrum. This section of the spectrum is considered to have several key attributes that make it ideal for analysing solid, liquid, and gas samples.

Light in this range (around 350 nm – 2,500 nm) reacts to certain chemical bonds to different degrees. As such, when it is directed at samples with minerals made up of these bonds, some of it will be absorbed and some of it will be reflected. Exactly what is absorbed will depend on the chemical makeup of the sample.

NIR technology measures these varying absorption rates and uses them to identify the composition of a sample. It also analyses the intensity of the reflected light to determine the concentration of key minerals.

Within the mining exploration context, NIR is the best choice when speed and quantity are the priority. NIR tools allow you to quickly develop a picture of the main minerals present across a large area. They can also measure the moisture content and identify air pockets, which can help inform calculations of the deposit value and optimal processing method.

Choosing the Right NIR Device

As portable NIR tools have evolved, adoption of the technology has increased significantly, and it is now widely used across several fields. A range of different devices have also been developed to suit the various applications of this analysis method. As such, it is important to make sure you choose a device that is designed for how you plan to use it.

The ASD TerraSpec 4 Hi-Res

Is There an Alternative to Mineral Analysis Laboratories? Introducing Portable NIR 3

If you are looking for a device to support your exploration activities, the TerraSpec 4 Hi-Res is for you. 

Trusted by top geologists, this rugged tool uses full-range near-infrared technology to analyse geological composition quickly and accurately. With standard and high-resolution options available, it is suitable for both mineral exploration and production quality assurance applications.

For more information on how NIR technology could help you reduce your reliance on mineral analysis laboratories, or to order your own TerraSpec 4 Hi-Res analyser, contact the PAS team today.

If you would like to try before you buy, we also offer a wide selection of portable analytical solutions for rent. All of our equipment is maintained by factory-certified engineers and comes with expert training and technical support.

Elemental Assay in Mining Explained

Elemental Assay in Mining Explained

Working out the volume and quality of deposits is one of the biggest challenges prospectors and mine operators need to overcome. Assay techniques can help with this, allowing the concentration of valuable minerals and metals to be calculated. 

Assay in mining also has important financial implications, providing crucial insight into the economic viability of a project and the investment potential for an operator.

Here we take a closer look at what assay is and the role it plays within the mining industry. We also explore the different techniques that can be used and share our advice on selecting the right tool for your assay needs.

What is Assay in Mining?

Assay is an analytical process that determines the composition of a substance and the concentration of specific elements. In addition to its use within the mining industry, it also has medical, chemical, and environmental applications. 

Assay results are also sought out by finance and investment professionals to help determine the potential performance of businesses operating in these spaces.

How Assay Techniques Support Mining Activities

As the data they produce informs a wide range of important decisions, assay techniques are used throughout the mining life cycle.

Assay During Exploration

The initial stages of any mining project are all about finding deposits and confirming the economic viability of their retrieval. To make this calculation, operators need an understanding of the size of the deposit (tonnage), quality of materials (grade), and operating costs (mining method and ease of processing).

At this stage, assay techniques are used to help determine the potential value of the mineral or ore body. They do this by providing data on the quality and quantity of materials present in a chosen site. This information is then used to model the deposit, including the likely tonnage and grade.

Assay techniques are equally important to both greenfield and brownfield exploration activities.

Assay During Operation

Once mining activity has begun, assay techniques continue to be important.

The composition of mined material needs to be closely monitored, as it informs the optimal processing method. Significant changes in composition can also impact the planning of future mining activities, so need to be identified early.

Ongoing measurement of the concentration of target elements is also required to determine the actual value being realised from mining activities. This informs the calculation of operational efficiency and discussions around the financial viability of the mine.

Assay in Support of Environmental Compliance

All mining operations need to adhere to a range of regulations and guidelines designed to minimise environmental impacts, among other things. These include strict controls regarding the management of pollutants and contaminants.

Assay techniques allow mining operators to monitor soil and water quality to ensure it meets the required standards. Regular testing also supports the early identification of potential issues (like runoff), allowing them to be rectified or managed before they cause significant damage.

Common Elemental Assay Techniques

There are three main techniques used for assay in mining, each with its own strengths and considerations.

Pyrometallurgical Assay

This technique and has been used for thousands of years. It uses heat to extract raw materials from a sample, which can then be weighed to determine concentration. Traditionally performed using fire, modern methods use high-temperature lab furnaces to process gold, silver, and most platinum group metals.

While the exact process varies depending on the target element, this technique usually involves:

  1. Crushing and grinding a sample into a fine powder
  2. Adding dry powder chemicals – usually a fluxing agent and alloying material
  3. Placing the material in a cupel – a small bowl made out of a refractory material like magnesite or bone ash
  4. Heating the sample until it forms a glass-like slag
  5. Allowing the material to cool and separate – the non-precious elements will either oxidise or be absorbed into the cupel

This produces a small bead, known as a prill, which is made up of all the precious metal present in the original sample. The concentration of the target element is then calculated by weighing the prill and comparing it to the weight of the initial sample.

How Viable is Pyrometallurgical Assay?

Compared to other methods, this technique can be quite complex, time-consuming, and expensive, particularly when multiple samples need to be processed. The manual nature of multiple steps and the destructiveness of the treatment also means that the accuracy of results can vary.

Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy (AAS)

This is one of the oldest, commercially-developed analysis techniques, with the modern version largely refined by Australian scientists in the 1950s. It is based on the principle that specific atoms absorb light at unique wavelengths, and that the amount of light absorbed indicates the concentration.

For this technique, a sample usually needs to be dissolved in a liquid solution. While some AAS methods can be used on solid materials, these usually need to be crushed and ground into a fine powder first. Samples also need to be atomised, which is generally done using a flame or graphite tube.

Once atomised, samples are then irradiated, either by an element-specific line or continuum radiation source. The amount of light absorbed by the sample is measured and the concentration of the target element is determined.

How Viable is Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy?

As a specialised instrument is used to complete most of the steps, this process is fairly simple and reliable. That said, the requirement for initial preparation of the sample creates the potential for inconsistency in results.

X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) Analysis

This technique has increased in popularity in recent years, following significant developments in analysis technology. It shares several similarities with AAS, including using unique “fingerprints” to measure the concentration of specific elements

XRF analysers determine the chemistry of a sample by measuring the fluorescent or secondary X-ray emitted when excited by a primary X-ray source. 

This dislodges an electron from the atom’s inner shell. As the irradiated atom regains stability, an electron from the higher orbital shell will replace the dislodged electron, emitting an X-ray in the process which can be measured to provide insight about the element the atom belongs to, including positive identification and characteristics. 

Every element present in a sample produces a unique set of characteristic fluorescent X-rays (the fingerprint), which is why XRF spectroscopy is often used for qualitative and quantitative analysis of material composition.

How Viable is X-Ray Fluorescence Analysis?

This technique provides a few important benefits that the other techniques can’t match:

  • Portable and easy to complete – analysis can be done on-site using handheld devices
  • Fast results can be delivered in seconds without lengthy sample preparation or lab turnaround times
  • Non-destructive and can be completed on solid samples
  • Enables simultaneous detection of multiple elements 
  • Lower detection limits mean it can be used to identify and quantify the presence of Rare Earth Elements and Lithium Pathfinders

Choosing the Right Tool – Introducing the XL5 Plus

Elemental Assay in Mining Explained 4

The unique benefits of XRF make this technique a standout for a wide range of elemental assay requirements. The Niton XL5 Plus is the premier instrument for performing fast, reliable XRF analysis.

The lightweight, ergonomic design of this handheld device makes it perfect for use on-site. Its easy-to-use navigation can be customised to suit a variety of applications, from mineral exploration to supporting mining operations. It is also powerful enough to detect:

  • Metals
  • Alloys
  • Trace elements
  • Geochemical data
  • The elemental composition of powders, oils, sludge, and slurries

If you are interested in getting your hands on this invaluable bit of gear, contact the Portable Analytical Solutions (PAS) team today.

Not ready to commit to purchasing? We also offer a range of devices for rent.

Our rental equipment is fully licensed, maintained by Australia’s only factory-trained and certified engineers, and suitable for assay in mining. 

Our experienced team is also available throughout the rental period to provide testing advice and technical and application support.

Finding Buried Treasure: The Stages of Mineral Exploration Explained

Finding Buried Treasure: The Stages of Mineral Exploration Explained

The Australian landscape is renowned for being mineral rich and mining operations here have the potential to be quite lucrative. 

However, the country is also extremely vast, making it difficult to identify deposits, particularly of the scale required to make mining economically viable. That’s why experienced prospectors maximise their chances of success by working through several structured stages of mineral exploration.

This process is designed to confirm the quality and quantity of minerals present in an area as efficiently as possible. It generally starts with lower-impact activities and only moves on to more invasive – and expensive – measures if certain criteria are met. This helps limit unnecessary impact on the environment and reduces both the risk and scale of wasted investment.

How are Valuable Minerals Located?

There are a range of characteristics that areas with significant mineral deposits share. Some of these are visible to the trained eye, though most can only be identified through deeper analysis using specialist tools. 

The different stages of the mineral exploration process look for these signs, using increasingly advanced techniques to confirm the exact make-up of the deposit.

Please note: In this article, we focus on the practical steps required to identify, extract, and process mineral deposits. If you are looking to follow these steps, there are some administrative requirements you also need to meet. This includes finding funding and securing the appropriate licences from the relevant State Government department (e.g. the Department of Regional NSW or Resources Victoria).

Working through the Stages of Mineral Exploration

The exact process you need to follow to identify and analyse a mineral deposit will depend on a range of different factors. 

For example, the specific tests you need to perform will be largely based on the mineral you are looking to extract. The geology of the area may also influence the design of both your surveying and extraction activities.

That being said, most mineral exploration projects go through several key stages, which are outlined below.

Initial Mapping and Surveying

You start by carefully examining the area for common indicators of a mineral deposit. This may include mapping the site’s geology, including the location and orientation of exposed rocks. It often also involves water and soil testing to identify sediments present on the surface of the site.

You can then graduate to more advanced surveying methods to get a more detailed view of the minerals present. 

Near-Infrared (NIR) Surveying 

Near-infrared (NIR) surveying in mineral exploration utilises spectral signatures of minerals in the near-infrared range to map their distribution across large areas. 

Analysis devices collect NIR data, enabling rapid identification of specific mineral absorption features and the creation of maps. Overall, it offers a quick and efficient approach to locating potential mineral deposits for further investigation.

Fourier-Transform Infrared (FTIR) Surveying

Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) surveying identifies and characterises minerals by analysing their unique infrared absorption spectra, and uses the Fourier Transform method to analyse impressively wide spectra. 

FTIR is particularly useful for mapping mineral distributions and identifying alteration minerals associated with ore deposits.

Magnetic Surveying

A magnetometer is used to identify subtle variations in the Earth’s magnetic field. This helps you analyse rock types and determine the presence of metallic minerals.

Electromagnetic Surveying

An electromagnetic field is used to identify subtle variations in the conductivity of the near-surface rocks and soil. This helps you analyse groundwater and salinity, and locate deposits of metallic minerals.

Radiometric Surveying

A spectrometer is used to measure the gamma rays emanating from the top 30cm of earth. Widely considered the most reliable surveying method, this helps you analyse the composition of surface rock and soil, and determine the presence of a range of minerals.

Gravity Surveying

A gravimeter is used to identify subtle variations in the Earth’s gravitational field. This helps you analyse the thickness of rock in the crust and determine the presence of certain minerals and energy sources.

If your exploration area is quite large or difficult to access, low-flying helicopters or aircraft can be used to carry out airborne surveys, or if smaller, ground-based surveying may be more appropriate and effective.

Targeted Drilling and Sampling

If the results of initial exploration activities are positive, targeted testing can help you confirm the presence of a mineral deposit. In particular, core drilling allows you to access below the surface of the site and see what materials are present. 

The depth you need to drill down will depend on your surveying results and will progressively increase as you confirm the presence (or not) of minerals.

Before proceeding to the next stage, you may also choose to carry out bulk sampling. This is quite an invasive process that requires the extraction of a large volume of material to enable further testing. However, it can provide invaluable information on both the quality and quantity of minerals present.

Alternatively, using portable NIR and FTIR analysis devices can shortcut this process because of their ability to take highly accurate, fast and non-invasive readings of samples.  

Detailed Modelling and Design

Using the data gathered through your exploration activities, you can develop intricate models of the size and structure of the mineral deposit. 

These can then be used to help you decide whether to proceed with mining the site. And, if you do, your modelling can also help you optimise the design of your mining activities and infrastructure.

Mineral Extraction and Processing

There are many different ways to get minerals out of the ground, and mining techniques and technologies are constantly evolving

Whichever approach you choose, you should expect to invest significant time and money into setting up your operations. You will also need to validate production levels against your modelling and begin further exploration activities well before you reach depletion.

There is also constant innovation in mineral processing, which is helping to increase efficiency, reduce waste, and minimise health and environmental risks.

Choosing the Right Tools for the Job

Having the right equipment at your disposal will make it much easier to progress through the stages of mineral exploration. At Portable Analytical Solutions, we understand this and have the perfect products to help with your exploration efforts:

The ASD TerraSpec 4 

Finding Buried Treasure: The Stages of Mineral Exploration Explained 6

The ASD TerraSpec 4 is a favourite of top geologists, allowing mineralogical analysis to be completed quickly and precisely. A spectrometer that uses near-infrared technology, it provides the highest quality spectral results, supporting the accurate analysis of minerals, even at low concentrations.

The Agilent 4300 Handheld FTIR™

Finding Buried Treasure: The Stages of Mineral Exploration Explained 7

The Agilent 4300 Handheld FTIR™ provides the ultimate combination of convenience, durability, usability, and accuracy. A spectrometer that focuses on the mid-infrared range, it is the ideal complement to the ASD, enabling detailed analysis across a wider spectral range.

For more information on these tools, or to purchase your own, contact the PAS team today.

XRF, NIR and FTIR: Your Complete Mining Solution

XRF, NIR and FTIR: Your Complete Mining Solution

In the high-stakes world of Australian mining, accurate and reliable analysis is the bedrock of success.

With evolving technologies, the mining industry has seen a remarkable shift towards non-destructive, portable analysis tools that promise to revolutionise the way you explore, extract and analyse valuable resources.

This article delves into the importance of robust analytical solutions and explores the three most popular and effective technologies: XRF, NIR and FTIR.

What Are The Best Mining Analysis Technologies?

Both greenfield and brownfield mining operations demand precise insights into elemental composition and mineral content.

Robust, portable and non-destructive analysis technologies like XRF, NIR and FTIR empower your team with real-time data that informs critical decisions on-site.

But rather than thinking about them as competing technologies, think of them as complementary.

Each technology is better suited for different applications, so instead of asking which one is better, ask whether XRF, NIR or FTIR are more suited to your needs.

1. X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF)

What is XRF?

X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) is a non-destructive analytical technique to determine the elemental composition of materials, making it ideal for elemental analysis. Handheld XRF or Portable XRF (PXRF) is now widely used across the mining industry for real-time, in-field mining analysis.

How does XRF work?

XRF analysers determine the chemistry of a sample by measuring the fluorescent or secondary X-ray emitted when excited by a primary X-ray source.

Every element present in a sample produces a unique set of characteristic fluorescent X-rays (also called a “fingerprint”), which is why XRF spectroscopy is often used for qualitative and quantitative analysis of material composition.

Learn more about XRF.

2. Near-Infrared (NIR)

What is NIR Spectroscopy?

Near-Infrared Spectroscopy is an accurate, reliable, rapid and non-destructive analysis method that requires no sample preparation. NIR is one of the most used procedures as it is both efficient and has a wide range of applications across mining, medicine, agriculture and many other industries.

How does NIR work?

NIR Spectroscopy instruments detect the molecular overtone and combination variations of the specific wavelengths of NIR light absorbed by specific organic molecules.

NIR is best used for mineral analysis in the near-infrared region of the electromagnetic spectrum (from about 350 nm to 2500 nm) to identify compounds and materials.

Learn more about NIR.

3. Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR)

What is FTIR Spectroscopy?

FTIR is named for its use of the Fourier transform mathematical process. It is a versatile extension of existing Infrared techniques that provides fast, accurate results in a unique spectral range. This makes it especially complementary when paired with NIR. FTIR is ideal for mineral analysis in the mid-infrared region (4000-400 cm-1).

How does FTIR work?

FTIR uses the mathematical transform called the Fourier Transform, which decomposes functions depending on space or time into functions depending on spatial or temporal frequency. FTIR technology converts raw data into an infrared spectrum of absorption or emission of a solid, liquid or gas.

Learn more about FTIR

The Complete Solution: a Combination of XRF, NIR and FTIR

While each technology shines in its specific domain, the ultimate solution for comprehensive mining analysis is to harness the power of all three.

Together, XRF, NIR and FTIR technologies provide an unrivalled spectral range, covering elemental, mineral, and molecular analyses. This synergy guarantees that your team is equipped with the most versatile toolkit in the industry, adaptable to the evolving demands of mining exploration and processing.

The Leading Analysis Tools for XRF, NIR and FTIR

XRF: The Niton XL5 Plus Handheld XRF Analyser

The XL5 Plus allows the X-ray source and fluorescence detector to be closer to the sample, improving the limits of detection and shortening measurement time, especially for light elements and rare earth elements (REE).

The Niton XL5 Plus is a compact, lightweight handheld XRF analyser built for the most demanding analytical applications that efficiently measures the elemental composition of all metals, scale, sludge, oil, powders and slurries and other geochemical applications.

Learn more: Niton XL5 Plus Handheld XRF Analyser

NIR: The ASD TerraSpec 4 NIR Spectrometer

The TerraSpec 4 is trusted by top geologists for performing fast, precise geological exploration, using full-range near-infrared technology.

With enhanced optics providing even higher-quality spectral results, the improved data quality of the TerraSpec analyser allows for accurate assessment of low-concentration and low-reflectance minerals.

Learn more: ASD TerraSpec 4 NIR Spectrometer

FTIR: The Agilent 4300 Handheld FTIR

The Agilent 4300 Handheld FTIR spectrometer offers an unrivalled combination of convenience, portability, ruggedness and versatility. It is light enough (just 2 kg) for easy transport, yet sturdy enough to handle challenging conditions.

With high-performance optics, hardware design and an excellent user experience, the Agilent 4300 is the perfect tool for on-the-spot non-destructive testing in any environment.

Learn more: Agilent 4300 Handheld FTIR

Purchase Your Complete Mining Solution Today

Ensuring your team has the right mining tools is the most important step toward ensuring effective mining analysis. Without it, significant time, resources, and reputation will be exhausted.

By incorporating the XL5 Plus for elemental analysis, the TerraSpec for mineral analysis in the near-infrared region and the Agilent 4300 for mid-infrared mineral analysis, you gain a comprehensive solution that ensures you’re ready for any challenge in the field.

Get in touch with our experienced team at Portable Analytical Solutions today to purchase any or all of these devices as a complete set of complementary mining analysis tools.

Getting Transparent About Root Phenotyping

Plant phenotyping is a vital aspect of agricultural research and crop management.

It involves the comprehensive study of plant traits and their responses to environmental conditions. Among these traits, root phenotyping stands out as a critical area of focus.

This is especially true for regions like Australia where drought conditions pose significant challenges to crops. The ability of roots to efficiently find and absorb water is paramount in these environments.

In this post, we will explore the importance of accurate and efficient root analysis during the plant phenotyping process, with a special emphasis on Australia’s drought conditions. We will also delve into the current challenges faced in root analysis and how the PhenoAIxpert can revolutionise root phenotyping.

Why is Plant Phenotyping Important?

In Australia’s drought-prone climate, root phenotyping is vital. It helps researchers and farmers understand how plants adapt by assessing root growth and water absorption.

This plays a crucial role in improving crop yields by identifying plants with efficient water-extraction root systems. In this way, accurate root analysis is essential to the agricultural sustainability of these harsh regions.

Challenges Associated with Root Analysis

Vital as it may be, analysing roots can be the cause of many challenges, and these are compounded when trying to perform particularly precise phenotyping. Some of these challenges include:

1. Lack of visibility

Roots are hidden beneath the soil and are difficult to observe directly. Traditional methods of root analysis often require uprooting plants, which not only disrupts the growing process but can also lead to the loss of important data.

2. Sample Destruction

Another issue with digging up plants to analyse their roots is that this will often damage, if not ruin the sample, making it impossible to track changes over time and tainting the accuracy of your results.

3. Hefty Cleaning

Samples preparation can be a time-consuming process as it requires careful cleaning to remove soil and debris without damaging the roots. The traditional methods for root analysis are not only labour-intensive but also lack the ability to perform non-destructive, real-time assessments.

This is where innovative technologies like the Lemnatec™ PhenoAIxpert come into play.

Introducing the PhenoAIxpert

Getting Transparent About Root Phenotyping 10

The PhenoAIxpert represents a remarkable advancement in root phenotyping technology, largely thanks to its innovative use of transparent containers. By seamlessly integrating advanced image processing techniques with these containers, it offers a host of benefits that revolutionise the root analysis process.

The Use and Benefits of Transparent Containers

Root Samples in Real Time

By utilising transparent containers, researchers can observe and study root growth in real time without disturbing the plant. This non-invasive analysis method ensures that a plant’s natural development isn’t accidentally affected by the analysis process.

This allows for a more accurate understanding of how it responds to changing conditions. To this end, the transparency of these containers is a critical factor in the PhenoAIxpert’s success.

Capture High-Resolution Images

It also enables researchers to capture high-resolution images of the roots in question.

These images offer precise data on:

  • root length
  • volume
  • branching patterns
  • root health
  • ability to seek water*

*This level of detail is essential for researchers seeking to comprehensively understand how plants adapt to their environment, particularly in regions like Australia, where water availability is a matter of survival for crops.

The Features and Benefits of the PhenoAIxpert

1. Advanced Image Processing

The PhenoAIxpert uses state-of-the-art image processing algorithms to extract valuable data. These algorithms can analyse root length, volume, branching patterns, and other health indicators.

2. Real-Time Monitoring

With the PhenoAIxpert, researchers can continuously monitor root growth and development. This feature is particularly beneficial for assessing the impact of water availability on root systems over time.

3. User-Friendly Interface

The PhenoAIxpert has been designed with usability and user experience in mind. Its easy-to-use interface allows both researchers and farmers to access and interpret data easily, making it a versatile tool for a wide variety of industrial and academic applications.

4. Customisation

The modern PhenoAlxpert system can be moulded to suit specific research needs and plant varieties. This adaptability ensures that researchers and farmers can collect the most relevant data for their specific applications.

Get in Touch Today to Purchase a PhenoAIxpert

Ensuring your team has the right tools is the most important step toward ensuring effective plant analysis. Without it, significant time and resources will be exhausted.

To ensure that your team, no matter the industry, can reap the rewards of root phenotyping in an increasingly competitive market, you need to acquire the PhenoAlxpert

Get in touch with the experienced team at Portable Analytical Solutions today to purchase a PhenoAlxpert for fast root phenotype analysis.

Portable FTIR Analysis: Revolutionising Industries with the Agilent 4300 Handheld FTIR

Portable FTIR Analysis: Revolutionising Industries with the Agilent 4300 Handheld FTIR

In the evolving landscape of analytical solutions, one technology has emerged as a true game-changer.

Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) analysis, a form of infrared spectroscopy, has taken a wide range of scientific and industrial sectors by storm, offering a portable and versatile solution for a wide range of analytical applications.

In this article, we delve into the world of portable FTIR analysis, including a detailed analysis of its features, how it can be of benefit to a wide variety of industries and a specific dissection of the flagship FTIR device, the Agilent 4300 handheld FTIR.

What is FTIR and Why is it Transforming Industries?

Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) analysis allows scientists, researchers, and industry professionals to analyse a wide variety of solid, liquid and gas materials with exceptional precision. This technique capitalises on the interaction between molecules and infrared light to provide in-depth insights into molecular structures, chemical compositions, and material properties.

Unlike traditional methods, FTIR offers a non-destructive and rapid means of analysis, rendering it a revolutionary and indispensable tool across a wide range of industries.

Differences Between FTIR and NIR

Distinguishable from FTIR, Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (NIR) is another non-destructive analytical technique that identifies the molecular composition of a sample.

Given NIR is already well-known, you may be wondering why FTIR is necessary and how the two methods differ.

The main difference between NIR and FTIR is the spectral range they use for analysis. Whilst NIR uses light in the near-infrared region (approximately 350-2500 nm), FTIR uses light in the mid-infrared region (approximately 4000-400 cm^-1).

This means that FTIR delves deeper into fundamental vibrations of material, resulting in enhanced accuracy and sensitivity. FTIR’s broader spectral range allows it to identify a wider array of functional groups, making it an ideal choice for more complex sample analysis.

While FTIR is particularly adept at identifying unknown compounds and identifying intricate molecular structures, it’s best used as a complement to NIR technology which can analyse compounds from a different perspective.

Introducing the Agilent 4300 Handheld FTIR: Redefining Portability and Performance

At the forefront of portable FTIR technology is the Agilent 4300 handheld FTIR, the pinnacle of analytical instrumentation.

Portable Analytical Solutions (PAS) proudly partners with Agilent to offer this revolutionary device to industries seeking rapid, on-site material analysis. The Agilent 4300 leverages advanced FTIR capabilities in a portable form, enabling users to undertake spectroscopic analysis directly at the site of the sample, eliminating the need for transportation and laboratory-based testing.

Benefits of the Agilent 4300 Handheld FTIR

The Agilent 4300 handheld FTIR offers a wide array of unique benefits that are redefining the landscape of on-site analysis:

Portability and Convenience

Weighing only approximately two kilograms, the Agilent 4300 handheld FTIR is a truly portable solution, enabling real-time analysis in remote locations and field sites.

Fast Results

The Agilent 4300 handheld FTIR provides rapid and accurate results, reducing analysis time from hours to seconds, in the pursuit of faster decision-making and process optimisation.


Applicable to mining, environmental science, agriculture, scrap sorting, and defence sectors, the Agilent 4300 handheld FTIR’s versatility enables users to address a wide range of analytical tasks with a single device. It can also analyse solids, liquids and gases, saving you the hassle of switching devices for different types of samples.

Reduced Costs

By eliminating the need for laboratory analysis and transportation, the Agilent 4300 handheld FTIR not only saves time but also significantly reduces operational costs.

FTIR’s Impact Across Diverse Industries

The versatility of FTIR analysis extends beyond its features and includes its application to a multitude of industries. Thanks to the Agilent 4300 handheld FTIR, a portable solution, this is increasingly the case.


FTIR analysis assists in the identification of minerals, ores, and exploration of geological formations, enhancing efficiency and resource optimisation across multiple areas inside the wide scope of the mining industry.

Environmental Science

Environmental monitoring, pollution analysis, and soil quality assessment each benefit from FTIR’s ability to detect contaminants and quantify highly complex pollutant concentrations.


When it comes to agriculture, FTIR helps optimise crop yields by analysing soil composition, detecting nutrient deficiencies, and ensuring the quality of agricultural products. It serves as an important and informative precursor to many ongoing agri-business and agriculture decisions.

Scrap Sorting

In the field of recycling and waste management, FTIR technology identifies polymers and materials to assist the public sector and associated organisations in facilitating effective sorting and recycling processes.


FTIR plays a critical role in identifying hazardous materials, explosives, and chemical agents, aiding security personnel in their mission to ensure public safety.

Detailed Features of the Agilent 4300 Handheld FTIR

The Agilent 4300 handheld FTIR boasts an array of features that elevate its performance:

A User-Friendly Interface

The intuitive interface of the Agilent 4300 handheld FTIR simplifies operations, making it accessible to both novice and experienced users.

Battery-Powered Operation

The device’s swappable 4-hour battery allows for extended field use, enabling relatively uninterrupted analysis even in remote locations.

Real-Time Data Analysis

The Agilent 4300 handheld FTIR assist in real-time on operations, and its near-instant data analysis empowers users to make informed decisions in the field.

Rugged Design

The Agilent 4300 is engineered for durability, with a rugged exterior capable of withstanding demanding environments, as it to be expected from a portable device that thrives in outdoor industries such as mining and agriculture.

Purchase an Agilent 4300 Analyser Today

Ensuring your team has the right tools is the most important step toward ensuring effective material analysis. Without it, significant time, resources, and reputation will be exhausted.

To ensure that your team, no matter the industry, can reap the rewards of material analysis in an increasingly competitive market, you need to acquire the Agilent 4300 handheld FTIR.

Get in touch with our experienced team at Portable Analytical Solutions today to purchase a new Agilent 4300 handheld FTIR for fast and portable compound analysis.

Prospecting with Precision: How Rare Earth Element Detection Enhances Mining Exploration

Mining exploration plays an important role in the Australian mining industry, particularly when it comes to Rare Earth Element (REE) detection. These valuable resources are in high demand due to their extensive applications in various industries, however, locating REE deposits can be a challenging task without the right tools and technology.

Fortunately, there is a game-changing solution: the Niton XL5 Plus Analyser.

In this article, we will delve into the significance of REEs, the process of exploratory mining, and how the accurate and fast analysis provided by the Niton XL5 Plus can significantly improve the search for these valuable elements.

What are Rare Earth Elements?

Rare Earth Elements are a group of 17 chemically similar elements found in the Earth’s crust. They encompass lanthanides such as cerium, europium, and lanthanum, along with two additional elements: scandium and yttrium. Despite their name, REEs are not actually particularly rare, but are instead dispersed in low concentrations throughout various minerals.

Why are Rare Earth Elements Sought After?

REEs have become increasingly sought after due to their major role in modern technology manufacturing.

These elements are essential to produce high performance:

  • Magnets
  • Catalysts
  • Lasers
  • Batteries

That’s why they are so crucial for increasingly popular renewable energy systems, including electric vehicles, telecommunications products, and defence technologies. As industries transition towards sustainable practices, the demand for REEs continues to rise.

What is Exploratory Mining?

Also referred to as Greenfield mining, exploratory mining plays a crucial role in locating and then extracting REEs.

Considering REEs are not typically found in large deposits, locating them is a complex process. Exploratory mining involves searching for trace amounts, otherwise known as “pathfinders” that indicate the presence of REEs in the earth’s core. Identifying these pathfinders accurately can significantly improve the success rate of mining operations.

The Benefits of Accurate and Fast Analysis

The benefits of accurate and fast REE analysis are plentiful.

Informed Decisions

Firstly, it allows mining companies to make precise and informed decisions, minimising the risk of drilling in the wrong locations and maximising the chances of discovering valuable REE deposits. This efficiency translates into significant cost savings, as resources are not wasted on unproductive sites.

Faster Operations

Moreover, faster mining exploration accelerates the timeline for potential mining operations. By leveraging advanced technology and improving the speed of their exploratory operations, mining teams can gain a competitive edge, establish their expertise in REE exploration, and attract lucrative partnerships and investments.

Effective Rare Earth Element detection is particularly valuable and makes for a fantastic commercial opportunity in a world that is increasingly interested in renewable energy sources and other technological and telecommunications products.

The Consequences of Exploring Without the Right Tools

On the other hand, conducting REE exploration without the right tools and therefore without fast analysis can have severe consequences for Australian mining companies.

Inaccurate Analysis

Inaccurate readings and unreliable data can lead to costly drilling in non-productive areas, wasting valuable time, money, and resources for the teams involved.

Reputation Damage

Additionally, a lack of precise analysis can damage a company’s reputation, hampering potential partnerships and investment opportunities long into the future. The absence of accurate tools also increases the likelihood of missed REE deposits, limiting the company’s growth potential, competitive advantage and over a long enough period their bottom line as well.

Slower Operations

Finally, the delayed identification of pathfinders and therefore REEs will prolong the lucrative exploration phase, resulting in slower project development and potentially lost market opportunities – after all, exploration is a necessary precursor to extraction.

Therefore, investing in the right Rare Earth Element detection tools is crucial to mitigate these detrimental consequences and ensure successful Rare Earth Element detection.

The Solution: The Niton XL5 Plus Analyser

Enter the Niton XL5 Plus Analyser.

With the right calibration, this XRF device is the standout, premium solution for Rare Earth Element detection.

This exceptional device offers exceptional performance, detection limits, and speed required in exploratory mining and drilling operations to ensure fast and reliable results.

With optimised mining calibration for 47 elements, including the REEs you need, the Niton XL5 Plus Analyser accurately detects pathfinders and essential elements like lithium, tantalum, cesium, and more.

In addition to its remarkable capabilities, the XL5 Plus offers a range of excellent accessories, including:

  • Vivid navigation; customisable user profiles
  • Micro and macro cameras
  • Advanced analytical performance
  • Lightweight ergonomic design
  • Smaller, faster, lighter
  • Segment leading light element performance
  • Customisable for individual applications
  • Accessories built for the industry
  • Backed by local support, knowledge and service
  • Large, installed customer database

Do you already own an older Niton device?

As well as supplying new models, PAS provides upgrade options to access the time and money-saving benefits of the XL5 Plus. With shorter lead times for new devices, calibrations, and servicing, PAS ensures that mining teams can maximise the device’s potential in the field promptly, safely and reliably.

Are you looking to maximise your Exploratory Mining Capabilities?

Ensuring your mining team has the right tools is the most important step toward ensuring effective Rare Earth Element detection. Without it, significant time, resources and reputation will be exhausted.

To guarantee your mining team is able to reap the rewards of Rare Earth Elements in an increasingly competitive market, you need to acquire the Niton XL5 Plus Analyser, or at least recalibrate your existing one to improve its accuracy.

Get in touch with the experienced team at Portable Analytical Solutions today to purchase a new XL5 Plus and get a free calibration, or to get your existing XL5 calibrated for fast and reliable Rare Earth Element detection.

Case Study: Screening for Asbestos in Tuvalu with the MicroPHAZIR AS

Case Study: Screening for Asbestos in Tuvalu with the MicroPHAZIR AS

The health risks of asbestos are well known, so much so that its use was officially banned in Australia in 2003.

Since then, extensive work has been conducted to remove asbestos where possible or to educate people on how to leave asbestos undisturbed. 

Unfortunately, its widespread presence in buildings and objects make it difficult to identify and avoid. 

The problem is, many smaller nations don’t have the resources or best-practice awareness that Australia has, and these nations remain vulnerable to the scourge of asbestos.

Asbestos on Tuvalu

Tuvalu is a Polynesian archipelago nation in the Pacific, about halfway between Australia and Hawaii. Like many other island nations, asbestos was used widely throughout the country’s infrastructure in the 20th Century and remains a risk for its citizens today. 

The Tuvalu Department of Waste Management (DWM) has been working tirelessly to identify, secure or remove asbestos throughout Tuvalu’s nine islands, but they are facing significant challenges. 

Lack of Labs

Tuvalu doesn’t have the laboratories required to test the large number of asbestos samples taken during clean-up efforts. This means the DWM is constantly being held up by lengthy lab turnaround times.

While these delays are necessary to keep their operators safe, they are still incredibly frustrating and slow down progress. 

Lack of Experts

The other resource shortage in Tuvalu is experts who can safely identify and dispose of asbestos. 

The Tuvalu island chain is relatively isolated and it can be difficult and costly to get experts to visit. That means when they do have them, they need to make the most of it!

A Possible Solution

PacWaste Plus programme technical offers, supported by consultant Ms Samantha O’Callaghan of HIBBs, visited Tuvalu on an asbestos identification mission in March.

What was different this time?

They were trialling a Thermo Fisher microPHAZIR AS Asbestos Analyser.

The Thermo Fisher MicroPHAZIR AS

The MicroPHAZAER AS is an industry-leading asbestos detection tool. With its simple point-and-shoot function, and accurate results delivered in just 10 seconds, it lets operators test for asbestos quickly and safely. . 

To screen a site, operators simply conduct a series of scans at different points, and if the results are negative they can declare an area safe. 

If the results are positive, they can send the sample away for lab confirmation, safe in the knowledge that they haven’t been exposed by needing to take a sample and disturb the contaminated object. 

Screening in Tuvalu

Man using a MicroPHAZIR device to scan a sample

The rapid testing ability of the microPHAZIR AS could make a real impact for the DWM’s initiative. 

“Undertaking asbestos assessments is very difficult in Tuvalu.  We do not have laboratory equipment and it is difficult and expensive for external specialists to visit our outer islands to complete assessments,” said Mr Epu Falenga, Director of Waste Management.

With the microPHAZIR AS, the hope is that much wider areas can be covered in a much shorter time period. 

“By testing this new technology and having our own staff experience the various steps to effectively undertake asbestos sampling, empowers us to roll out an assessment ourselves across our nine islands.” Mr Falenga continued. 

The Trial

Conference with people discussing the MicroPHAZIR device

While hopes are high that the microPHAZIR AS will be effective, testing must be completed to ensure it is compatible with Tuvalu’s conditions. 

“We need to be certain on the efficacy of this tool, especially in our island settings.” said Mr Falenga. 

As part of the trial, Ms O’Callaghan took samples determined to be ‘positive’ for asbestos and sent them to Australia for laboratory confirmation. A capacity building workshop was also conducted with the DWM team, as well as ten other government stakeholders from the Department of Customs and Department of Surveying.

The hope is that the sample determinations will be corroborated in the lab, and that the combined team in Tuvalu will already have the skills required to operate their devices. 

To Be Continued

The cause to rid Tuvalu of asbestos is a noble one, and the outcome of this trial will be relevant for the wider Pacific Island region.

For the operators at DWM, any developments that make asbestos detection safer, faster and more accurate will be welcome.

Images and information obtained from