Equipment Equipment

The Elemental Analysis Suite houses specialist instrumentations providing quantitative and qualitative elemental analysis on a wide range of solid and liquid samples.

The Environmental Analysis Laboratory experienced technical staff is able to provide an analytical service in handling samples from the atmosphere, geosphere, hydrosphere and industry.

This service is available to the University Of East Anglia (UEA), the Norwich Research Park (NRP) and the wider scientific and business community in the UK and abroad.

We offer a complete analytical package, from sampling and preparing to analysing and reporting results.

When required we can train personnel in the analytical techniques associated with their samples, including preparation and instrument control.  Once trained, users can book the instruments to carry out their own research and analysis.

All enquiries are also welcome and should initially be addressed to Liz Rix, Facilities Manager 01603 592540

We have the following equipment available for use


ICP-AES (Inductively coupled plasma Atomic emission spectroscopy) is an analytical technique used for the detection of metals. It is a type of emission spectroscopy that uses the inductively coupled plasma to produce excited atoms and ions that emit electromagnetic radiation at wavelengths characteristic of a particular element. The intensity of this emission is indicative of the concentration of the element.

ICP-AES is the routine method for elemental analysis, 3-4 mins analysis time per sample. Limits of detection are usually near 1 ug/kg.

CHN Analyser – Exeter CE440

Solid samples are analysed by flash combustion for their % composition of Hydrogen, Nitrogen and Carbon

Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) with Energy Dispersive Spectrometer (EDS)

The JSM 5900 LV is a Scanning Electron Microscope manufactured by JEOL Ltd (Japan). It is fitted with a tungsten filament. Topographic and chemically contrasted images can be produced. Samples can be observed without the need for coating by using the low vacuum (LV) capability of the instrument. Large samples can be accommodated by the 5-axis stage (X, Y, Z, rotation, tilt).

Attached to the SEM is an INCA EDS elemental analyser, developed by Oxford Instruments. The EDS allows for elemental identification, elemental x-ray mapping and atomic quantification at microscopic level.

This combination offers advanced capabilities in the field of microscopic characterisation.

The Laboratory is also equipped with Polaron SC7640 gold and Polaron CC7650 carbon sputter coaters to allow for high resolution and high vacuum observation and analysis.

Skalar TOC

Determination of carbon and nitrogen in liquid samples. Analysis includes total carbon, total organic carbon, total inorganic carbon, non purgeable organic carbon and total nitrogen using high temperature combustion.

The sample is injected by the autosampler into the high temperature reactor (750 - 950°C). In the reactor all the organic and inorganic carbon is oxidized into the gaseous carbon dioxide (CO2), while all chemically bound nitrogen is converted into nitric oxide (NO). The catalyst that is present in the reactor catalysis the oxidation to completion. A flow of air transports these products to the detectors. The oxygen required for the reaction is taken from the airflow. First the products are led into the infrared detector where the carbon dioxide is determined. The carbon dioxide is measured by IR detection. Subsequently the products are led into the ND20 detector where the nitric oxide is determined. In this chemiluminescent detector the sample gas is mixed with ozone in the reaction chamber to form excited nitrogen NO2. Fast decay of NO2 produces light, which is measured by a photomultiplier tube. The electric signal from the detector is amplified and transported into the controlling computer to be calculated. 


ICP-MS (Inductively coupled plasma mass spectroscopy) is the accepted and most powerful technique for the analysis and quantification of trace elements in both solid and liquid samples. Its applications range from routine environmental analyses and geological applications, through to clinical research, material sciences and the semiconductor industry.

X-ray Fluorescence Spectrometer (XRF)

The Bruker AXS S4 Pioneer is a sequential X-ray Fluorescence Spectrometer designed for qualitative, semi-quantitative and quantitative elemental analysis of solids, liquids or powders.

With limits of detection as low as 1 to 3 ppm for a range of elements, it is a fast and efficient tool for analysis of trace elements.

The S4 Pioneer is also ideally suited for major elements quantification.

The elemental spectrum of detection ranges from light elements, such as fluorine or sodium up to heavier elements such as thorium or uranium.