Original Date: 03/08/1999
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Best Practice : Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy
At the request of the Navy, the Applied Research Laboratory at the Pennsylvania State University (ARL Penn State) researched ways to measure lead, cadmium, and chromium in paint slated for removal from dry dock ships and scrapyard items. Current methods for measuring metal and metal oxides in paint include chemical spot tests which produce results difficult to quantify; off-site laboratory techniques which are time-consuming and require careful sample extraction; and x-ray fluorescence which is susceptible to errors from metal substrates and situations where lead-free paint layers obscure underlying leaded paint layers. This method also uses radioactive sources that must be federally registered and maintained.
The ARL Penn State’s research led to the development of the laser induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) system. This portable system focuses a laser pulse of sufficient power density onto a sample, whereby the area is volatilized into a microplasma and analyzed by a spectrometer. Unlike most methods using atomic emission spectroscopy, the sample is ionized and evaluated in one step with little or no sample preparation. The system can also accurately determine the metal content in multilayered paint. Results are displayed instantly in real time on the system’s computer screen. The LIBS system has been successfully tested at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.
The LIBS system’s portability makes it easy to use in dry docks and scrapyards. The ease of accurately testing paint and obtaining real-time results will greatly benefit the shipbuilding industry.
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