How real-time ore monitoring can save hundreds of thousands of dollars

In an increasingly volatile and unpredictable world, we all want to make cost-efficient choices. And often, the materials we choose can play a big part in these efforts. Whether it’s a car or a pair of shoes, products made with high-quality materials can help you save on waste, maintenance, and replacement costs in the long run.

Something similar could be said for mining – where rising process costs are also making cost control increasingly important. Just as in other areas, high-quality materials can help: a key way to drive cost-efficiency in mining is by maximizing the recovery of high-quality ore. This can reduce waste from lower-quality ore, improve process efficiency, and enable higher-quality end-products – all factors that boost overall profitability.

Acting quickly is key to cost-efficiency

The secret to these high levels of high-quality ore recovery? Fast mineralogical analysis – especially when it’s in real-time during processing! Real-time measurements allow operators to react quickly to the quality and composition of materials as they’re processed. This can remove lower-quality ore from the process as soon as possible, remove the need for time-consuming sampling and laboratory analysis, and minimize operational downtime.

NIR: A rapid real-time analysis technique

Near-infrared spectroscopy (NIR) is a rapid, reliable solution for this real-time analysis. How does it work? Well, using the near-infrared region of the electromagnetic spectrum, NIR measures the light scattered off and through a sample. In this way, it creates a ‘fingerprint’ of the ore that reveals its properties and mineralogical composition.

NIR provides non-contact, above-the-conveyor-belt measurements of materials as they’re processed on the belt. This means it delivers instant results, enabling quick decision-making that can reduce waste, save time, and improve quality. And, unlike some analytical techniques, NIR is non-destructive and requires little to no sample preparation.

QualitySpec® 7000: Improved knowledge, increased control

The best news? At Malvern Panalytical, our QualitySpec® 7000 NIR spectrometer is setting a new standard for non-contact NIR analysis. At the core of the QualitySpec 7000 are a simple, safe quartz-halogen light source and a highly sensitive detector array. The spectrometer is calibrated with the help of chemometric modeling techniques from ASD’s SummitCAL Solutions Team. This allows it to be combined with a process control system to transform its data into actionable information.

The result is a powerful system for real-time, closed-loop process and quality control, which is particularly ideal for continuous measurement of solids and blended materials. By providing multiple measurements from a single point, the QualitySpec 7000 yields more information, more quickly – facilitating extra-fast real-time process decisions. Even better: it’s ultra-easy to maintain.

Significant cost savings await…

And the results you can expect using the QualitySpec 7000? Well, by allowing you to analyze and sort your incoming ores in real-time, this instrument could reduce your production downtime and decrease your acid consumption during heap leaching – enough to save your mine $250,000 per year! With real-time process analysis, cost-efficient mining really is simple – as simple as buying a high-quality pair of shoes…


Written by: Uwe König., Posted by: Malvern Panalytical (

Gain Value with Direct Insight into Your Production Process

A Quebec Mining Review Article

Increasing competitive pressure and more stringent regulations in the mining industry drive the need for more efficient processes. Real-time monitoring provides fast and accurate control of essential parameters. It saves time, prevents costly waste, and ensures adherence to tight product specifications.

An interesting article regarding online elemental monitoring was published last month in the Quebec Mining Review magazine.

The text describes how real-time monitoring with an online X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analyzer such as the Epsilon Xflow helps to:

  • Control electrowinning process to reduce energy costs
  • Monitor and control solvent extraction processes
  • Check mine wastewater compositions
The Epsilon Xflow, real-time liquid elemental analyzer.

Control electrowinning process to reduce energy costs

Power consumption is the main cost factor of the electrolysis plant. Optimal control and insights in the process can prevent scenarios where the concentration of the analyte is too low or too high. The processes are then more efficient, and the improved stability increases throughput and margins.

Monitor and control solvent extraction processes

Using online elemental analysis to monitor leach solution enables operators to switch between several streams of injection and extraction wells to ensure an optimal composition for further downstream processing. It allows to control and steer acid consumption resulting in a constant metal in-flux for further solvent extraction (SX) involving minimal energy consumption and processing costs.

Check mine wastewater compositions

Real-time monitoring of hazardous elements in wastewater treatment drastically reduces the cost for reagent each year and avoids high penalties for non-compliance with environmental norms. By moving to online elemental monitoring without human intervention, companies can increase profitability by optimizing costs for labor, reagents and avoid paying penalties.

Added-value of the Epsilon XFlow.

In short, an online analyzer that ensures high accuracy and excellent repeatability such as the Xflow allows to meet tight regulatory requirements and optimize plant throughput.

About Quebec Mining Review Magazine

The Quebec Mining Review magazine is a yearly publication that promotes mineral exploration and development through the province of Quebec, in Canada. The latest mining products and technologies are among the topics covered in this bilingual publication.


Written by: Geneviève Labrecque, Posted by: Malvern Panalytical (

The importance of crystallography in our daily lives

X-ray diffractometers are the main instruments used for studying the crystallographic properties of matter. In this blog, we will give a few examples of the importance of crystallography in our daily lives.

Many substances found in nature, are crystalline. Crystals that appear in nature, as a result of volcanic activity, are formed under high pressure or crystallized from water.

Photo by Alexander Van Driessche – CC BY 3.0, Ref 23231964

Here, you see beautiful gypsum crystals that grew during thousands of years deep under the ground. They were found a few years ago, by accident, during mining activities in Naica Mexico. These crystals are extraordinarily large; they are meters long. Note the small human figure at the bottom right of the picture.

In most cases, however, the crystallites found in nature are much smaller in size. Most rocks, soils, and sands, consist of small submillimeter particles such as iron-containing rocks.

If you’d make a cross-section of a rock fragment in preparation for the optical microscope, you’d see the small crystallographic domains in the rocks. The crystallographic properties of such rocks can be investigated with an X-ray diffractometer (XRD) such as the Empyrean multipurpose X-ray diffractometer. The Empyrean is meant for the analysis of powders, thin films, nanomaterials, and solid objects.

A single crystal deflects X-rays into beautiful diffraction patterns. Bragg’s law determines at which angle a single crystal will give a diffraction signal. Also, polycrystalline materials or powders give diffraction patterns. Of the many small crystallites contained in the powder, only the ones with the right orientation will provide strong diffraction signals. Because the diffraction signal will come from multiple crystallites, the powder pattern can also be used to determine the constitution of mixtures.

The red trace that you see here is a diffractogram. It consists of many peaks recorded as a function of the diffraction angle. From the angular position of the peaks the different components of a mixture, also called the phases in the mixture, can be determined. From the relative intensity of the peaks, the relative abundance of the phases can be computed. A powder pattern is like a unique fingerprint of the material; such a diffractogram can also be obtained from solid objects such as rocks and metals. These objects consist internally out of many small crystallites and produce their own unique powder patterns. Powder diffractograms can be recorded for many of the substances that we find in the world around us. These materials determine the quality of our daily lives. Let’s have a look at the importance of understanding the crystallography of powders and other crystalline mixtures.

Cement, a boring material?

Cement is the main construction material for the buildings in which we live, since Roman times. Did you know that the workability, the setting time, and the final strength of concrete, are determined by the crystallographic properties of cement? To be more precise, the quality of the buildings we create is determined by the crystallographic phase changes during cement hardening – a process still not fully understood by today’s scientists!

Cement is made by heating limestone and other raw materials in the long rotary oven called a kiln. In the kiln, the substances undergo crystallographic changes at temperatures up to 1,400 degrees Celsius yielding a material called clinker, which is ground afterward and mixed with other constituents in order to create cement. The making of cement results in significant emission of carbon dioxide, CO2, one of the gases responsible for global warming. For each kilogram of cement, almost one kilogram of CO2 is produced, creating about 5 percent of the CO2 emissions from human activities. It is the second source of CO2 emission after power generation.

Of the total CO2 emission in the cement production process, the majority (60%) stems from limestone calcination, 30% comes from the fuel needed to heat the kiln. The final 10% is needed for grinding of the clinker, transport of the material through the plants, and so on. Attempts to reduce CO2 emission focus on two aspects:

  • First make cement with less clinker. Industrial byproducts such as fly ash from power plants or slags from iron producing blast furnaces are used for this. These materials also have a cementitious effect.
  • Secondly alternative fuels can be used for heating the kiln such as plastic waste, animal carcasses, or used car tires, but these also influence cement properties.

The understanding of the crystallographic properties of the cement is essential for producing cement with low CO2 emissions.

Optimizing iron ore in mining

Another important material in our daily lives is iron. The starting point for all iron is the ore which is dug from the ground in mines. The quality of the ore in a mine is never constant. It was determined millions of years ago when the rocks were formed. The classical and simple way for determining the quality of the ore is by visual inspection: compare the color of the unknown with a reference set. From such a visual inspection different parts of the ore body can be classified as low grade or high grade.

By determining the crystallography, however, a much finer classification of the ore body can be made. Using this approach allows one to much better sort the mined materials into different grades and mix them to create an intermediate that is much more constant in quality; it increases the profitability of the mining activities as less waste is created and it reduces the damage to the environment.

Let’s talk about stress

When you were in an airplane traveling, did you ever wonder why the windows in the plane are oval and not rectangular in shape? Airplanes and other machinery are subject to cyclic loads during operations like takeoff and landing. After many repeated loads cracks can form at the surface which can suddenly propagate through the whole assembly causing failure: the so-called metal fatigue. Metal fatigue was not fully understood when the first commercial jet airplanes were built. The de Havilland Comet was an example of such a jet airplane that was built in the 50s. After a successful introduction of the airplane, two of these planes crashed after more than one year of successful operation, several midair catastrophic accidents happened in a short period of time. All planes were grounded, and the investigation started.

The repeated loads on the airplane’s body were simulated by placing one of the remaining airplanes in a water tank – which was repeatedly pressurized and depressurized. After more than three thousand cycles the plane suddenly burst open. The investigation showed that a fatigue crack had occurred at the corner of a rectangular window. From the simulated stresses in the window frame, one could see that these stresses are much higher in rectangular corners than the rounded ones. So nowadays airplane windows have rounded corners.

A further improvement of the mechanical components in airplanes and other machines was obtained by deliberate generation of compressive residual stress in the surface of the metallic components, causing micro-cracks to stay closed and therefore reducing the chance of metal fatigue. Nowadays metal parts undergo treatment by shot peening, which adds this compressive stress to the top surface, and metal fatigue problems are largely overcome. Understanding crystallographic deformation, and the measurement by X-ray diffraction, are essential for making the safe and long-lasting machines that we use in our daily lives.


Again, another area: microelectronic devices such as computers and cell phones have also become an essential part in our daily lives especially for the youngest generation. Cell phones have become so small and powerful because of our understanding of crystallography. With this understanding, we have created smaller and more powerful batteries, as well as energy-efficient components such as the backlight of the screens in our cell phones. Cell phone backlights are made from gallium nitride (GaN), a semiconducting material. These backlights consist of many thin layers which should have the right crystallographic properties for a good working device. Let’s have a look at controlled crystal growth.

GaN backlights, like other microelectronic components, consist of many layers of different materials which are grown on single-crystal substrates in chemical vapor deposition reactors. Depending on the growth conditions in the reactor, such layers can be relaxed: there’s no relation with the crystal structure of the substrate or strained: the layer is deformed and matches the crystallographic structure of the substrate. These strained layers are essential for the correct functioning of the device. X-ray diffraction is used to probe the crystallographic quality of these layers. Well-produced LEDs result in energy-efficient long-lasting cell phone screens. Again, understanding crystallography is essential for our daily lives.




Perfecting pharmaceuticals

The growth and aging of the world population ask for the availability of pharmaceutical materials for everyone. Understanding the crystallography of pharmaceuticals is essential for the development and production of safe medicines. The rotating molecule is Thalidomide, a drug developed in the 50s, which was found to have adverse effects on unborn children. A crystallographic property common in organic molecules is polymorphism: the ability of the molecule to crystallize in different forms.




Here, you see two forms of indomethacin, a strong painkiller. We need to understand these crystallographic forms in order to make safe pharmaceuticals. By measuring the crystallography, we can also check the authenticity of the drug. Counterfeiting of pharmaceuticals is a widespread problem and is a potential threat to the safety of our population. Counterfeiting is less risky than narcotics trafficking.

Here you see diffractograms of alpha and gamma indomethacin. Since the two polymorphs have different crystal structures, both diffractograms are different. X-ray powder diffraction is the only tool to readily distinguish between different polymorphs of a compound.

Crystals in your food

Crystallography is also important for feeding our growing population. Fertilizers are essential nowadays for improving the yield of agriculture. Understanding the crystallography of soils and fertilizers helps to optimize the fertilizer for the crops which are to be grown.

Coated chocolate
Coated chocolate in a diffractometer

Access to drinking water is a growing problem in many areas of the world. The water in our rivers is often too polluted, or used for irrigation, causing water shortages for the population downstream. Making drinking water from the sea so called desalination there’s a growing activity. Understanding the crystallography of the membranes and filters is important for building desalination plants with reduced power consumption. Finally, crystallographic substances are present in many food substances we take. Chocolate is a tasteful crystallographic substance. So, crystallography is not only essential for our daily lives, it also adds taste.




Written by: Martijn Fransen, Posted by: Malvern Panaltyical (

Unlocking the secrets to faster, safer iron sinter analysis

Have you ever baked bread? Even if you haven’t, you’ll know that starting with the right amount and type of flour, yeast, and salt is crucial to achieving the perfect fluffy, savory loaf. But you probably also know that this isn’t the whole story. The dough that you create with these ingredients, and the way you knead and handle the dough before baking it, matters just as much.

Something similar could be said for iron and steel production. Before iron ore can become iron or steel, it must undergo an intermediary process, such as pelletizing, direct reduction, or sintering. And when it comes to sinter, the quality – including parameters such as basicity, strength index, and low-temperature degradation – can critically affect productivity, raw material consumption, and costs in the subsequent blast furnace step. And, with quality requirements, energy prices, and pressure to reduce CO2 emissions all growing, efficiency and quality are now more important than ever. For this reason, iron and steel producers need faster, more flexible sinter analysis methods.

On-line PFTNA: Super fast, super safe

Producers can monitor the quality of both the feed that enters the sinter plant and the sinter that is subsequently produced. By providing real-time analysis of your sinter’s properties, cross-belt analyzers enable you to react immediately to anomalies – enabling consistent, high sinter quality, efficient sintering and blast furnace processes, and maximum profitability.

A particularly exciting technique for sinter analysis is Pulsed Fast Thermal Neutron Activation (PFTNA). PFTNA involves a pulsed flow of neutrons interacting with the nuclei of atoms in the passing material, and it has several advantages. To start with, the constant flow of neutrons means PFTNA delivers unmatched performance stability. It’s also safer than radioactive isotope-based methods: not only does it generate no hazardous waste, but the neutron flow can switch off automatically when operators are nearby or during maintenance. And PFTNA can also dramatically reduce handling, transportation, and administration requirements.

Industry-leading instruments from Malvern Panalytical

The good news is that Malvern Panalytical offers an industry-leading range of PFTNA cross-belt analyzers. Developed in collaboration with Sodern, the world’s leading neutron tube supplier, our CNA analyzers support a wide range of materials and belt loads, and their detectors are designed to increase long-term stability and minimize stray neutrons. In particular, our CNA3 Sinter is ideal for iron sinter analysis. This instrument can analyze whole bulk samples of a broad range of sinter feed and iron sinter, including inhomogeneous material.

The options are endless…

But that’s not all. In addition to PFTNA analysis, X-ray diffraction (XRD) is also a fast, versatile way to analyze sinter materials, particularly for their mineralogical composition. When used in combination with Rietveld analysis and partial least squares regression (PLSR), it can generate results in only eight minutes. An X-ray fluorescence (XRF) can also be a valuable sinter analysis method. In short, with our solutions, there’s an extensive range of options for keeping your processes efficient and your sinter and iron high-quality – just like perfectly baked bread.

Written by: Uwe König, Posted by: Malvern Panaltyical (


With ever-increasing industrialization, the protection of our environment is essential; we need to do everything we can to protect our Earth. One starting point is a fast, precise, and reproducible analysis of those resources we return to nature after use, such as wastewater and emissions to the air.

Wastewater management

Over the past years, companies in Asia were fined for disposing of used industrial waste tainted with chemicals and heavy metals into the water. For example, in Vietnam, fish carcasses washed up on the beaches of Hà Tĩnh and many fishermen lost their livelihoods. This clearly also had a lasting effect on water safety. Although these companies have received fines, their waste management issues still affect the public and ecosystem.

Careful monitoring of wastewater before it is disposed of can save a lot of money (fines range from millions to billions of dollars). It can prevent damage to the environment, avoiding the need to spend on recovery efforts.

Malvern Panalytical supports companies with analytical solutions which ensure environmentally responsible disposal of used industrial water.

  • Prevent heavy metals from getting into your process: careful in-bound QC elemental analysis for heavy metals using our Epsilon 4 benchtop EDXRF spectrometer.
  • Monitor factories’ effluent streams: online monitoring of your wastewater for heavy metals before disposing into the environment using Epsilon Xflow. You can take immediate counteractions to prevent environmental damage.
  • Treating water with contaminants: add the right dose of coagulants by carefully monitoring the zeta potential of particles during your flocculation and sedimentation process. Take a look at this blog to see how a small town in Canada used our Zetasizer WT after a fire to treat the ash in their waters.

Monitoring the air we breathe

Outdoor air pollution can have many sources, both anthropogenic (power generation, vehicle emissions, industrial and agricultural emissions, etc.) and natural, for instance, volcanic eruption, wind erosion, or wildfires. A key area of concern is the Suspended Particulate Matter (SPM), which can have adverse effects on health, particularly in the particle size range under ten microns. Depending on their size, they have the ability to penetrate deep into the lungs or permeate throughout the body and even into the brain.

Particulate matter has been classified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a Group 1 carcinogen alongside tobacco smoke and asbestos[1], and particles <2.5 microns have been attributed to over 3.2 million premature deaths annually[2].

Many countries and regions of the world have enacted legislation setting air quality standards. The US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) published a comprehensive method (IO-3.3) for determining the elemental concentrations of 44 elements on air filters using energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence (EDXRF)[3].

When this method was developed in 1999, measurements by floor-standing instruments took over 4 hours per sample to achieve the detection limits specified in the EPA method. Nowadays, the Malvern Panalytical Epsilon 4 EDXRF benchtop instrument has the capability to achieve fully compliant results in only 45 minutes per sample. One can load air filters into the spectrometer with only minimal sample preparation. The samples remain intact for further analysis such as weighing and analysis of hydrocarbons. For all these reasons, EDXRF is less labor-intensive compared to alternatives such as ICP and AA.

Learn more about elemental analysis of air filters according to the EPA method IO-3.3 using the Epsilon 4 in an application note on the Malvern Panalytical website.

146, both focusing on air quality. Global harmonized monitoring and testing is the start of understanding where we stand and deciding internationally which improvement measure to implement.


Concern for respirable silica

Airborne silica particles pose a carcinogenic threat especially for foundry workers, at stonecutting, quarry work, and tunneling, even at concentrations as low as 50 μg/m3. The maximum permissible exposure limit of respirable crystalline silica (RCS) at a workplace is under constant scrutiny and there is a continuous push to improve limits of detection and quantification while keeping a reasonable measurement time. X-ray diffraction (XRD) is the method of choice for these demands and can even distinguish between the common polymorphs of silica (quartz, cristobalite, and tridymite)[4].

Recent advances in optics design have led to the great improvements of the low limits of detection for XRD, and 5 – 10-minute measurement around the primary quartz reflection is sufficient to achieve satisfactory detection and quantification limits to comply with the existing regulations even using a modern compact diffractometer running at reduced power. Full power floor-standing instruments allow further improvement in the detection and quantification limits. Malvern Panalytical’s XRD instruments combine high sensitivity and speed of detection and offer a robust turnkey solution for the quantification of respirable silica.

Written by: Taco van der Maten Posted by: Malvern Panaltyical (


Being experts all along the analytical chain for X-ray fluorescence (XRF), we know that the success of XRF analysis depends on the quality of the calibration standards used.

We also know that finding high-quality standards covering the required analytical range is not only challenging but also expensive. Therefore, we developed WROXI CRM kits designed to be used as primary fusion glass disks calibration or to develop secondary pressed powder calibrations.

How does it work?

  1. When ordering the WROXI – CRM cement kit, you will receive:
  • 24 certified reference materials traceable to ISO and NIST for the analysis of a variety of cements and the raw materials used in its manufacture (including limestone, clay/ shale, gypsum clinker, raw meal fly ash, slags and iron ore). Each CRM has its certificate and SDS.
  • XRF templates for WD and ED XRF spectrometers ​as well as instrument concentration files
  • Drift monitors
  • Methods and fusion recipes for all Malvern Panalytical fusion instruments
  • Borate flux and additives
  • Complete instructions for use

2. Once you receive the WROXI – CRM, you can prepare the glass disks with the defined fusion methods, fusion programs, and detailed instructions.

3. XRF templates from UBS sticks are saved in XRF and the glass disks are analyzed. Anyone familiar with our spectrometer software can easily complete the setup. Otherwise, contact our application experts.

4. Calibration is ready for unknown samples.

Average time to prepare calibration curves with WROXI CRMs for cement: 1 day!


Why are WROXI CRMs so cost-effective?

Our WROXI – CRMs cement kit is not only a set of standards. It is also a complete calibration solution allowing the user to eliminate long and costly tasks related to XRF calibration.

Our WROXI CRM eliminates the following tasks:

  • Time spent to shop and identify suitable CRMs.
  • Fusion method development efforts and time, including working on the fusion program, finding the adequate borate flux and identifying the sample-to-flux ratio.
  • XRF template and calibration work.

Because all the elements are covered in 24 standards (compared to 35 or sometimes over 50 when using natural CRMs) the time to prepare the standards by fusion decreases significantly.

Without WROXI, the cost of application development is high, considering it can take months, compared to only 1 day with the WROXI solution.

Our WROXI CRM kit does not totally fulfill your need? This is not a problem

Our specialized team of CRM manufacturing experts can prepare customized synthetic CRMs for you.

45 possible additional elements!

For additional information on our WROXI products, have a look at our previous blog post, in which the XRF expert Mark Ingham describes the history of WROXI reference materials and the benefits stemming from the new ISO 17034 accreditation.


Written by: Geneviève Labrecque, Posted by: Malvern Panalytical (


As films such as 2019’s Dark Waters reflect, chemical contamination – and the serious implications it has for both human health and the wider environment – is increasingly in the public consciousness. And, as the public becomes more aware of wastewater contamination, governmental and non-governmental institutions are implementing ever-stricter regulations on it – including in the mining industry.

Indeed, to comply with these regulations, protect our natural environment, safeguard human health, and retain a competitive advantage, many mining companies around the world are increasingly working to prevent soil pollution from contaminated wastewater.

What’s the best way to monitor wastewater composition?

Of course, to take quick action against hazardous elements in their wastewater, mining companies must be able to closely monitor the elemental composition of their wastewater streams for any changes. But, while most mining processing plants do have their own water treatment facilities, the monitoring methods used vary in effectiveness.

For instance, some of the most popular traditional methods are inductively coupled plasma (ICP) analysis or calorimetry – typically performed at-line in the laboratory. But there’s a major downside to these techniques: they are destructive, and can often only analyze 1-2 milliliters of wastewater per sample. On top of this, these methods also require qualified and trained operators to run the instrument. All in all, a solution that’s not always worth the cost.

Real-time monitoring: A stronger solution

There’s an alternative, though: real-time, online monitoring, without human intervention. This method gives mining companies direct insight into the production process and allows them to control essential parameters quickly and accurately. In this way, companies can save time, ensure they adhere to ever-tighter product specifications and regulatory requirements, and help protect our natural environment. What’s more, by minimizing the costs of labor, reagents, and penalties for waste and non-compliance, real-time monitoring can also help mining companies to boost their profitability.

Epsilon Xflow: Designed for mining

At Malvern Panalytical, we offer a high-performance solution to help our mining-industry customers take advantage of these benefits: the Epsilon Xflow. This real-time liquid elemental analyzer is designed for the continuous analysis of elemental composition in liquids. Its high accuracy, excellent repeatability, and ability to respond immediately to changing process conditions make it ideal for mining applications.

Indeed, the Epsilon Xflow can also be used to monitor process liquids, enabling mining companies to optimize their plant throughput, ensure highly efficient production, and deliver optimal ore quality. Need more proof? Just look at the results from our application study  – demonstrating the instrument’s versatility in improving the efficiency of different processes, and its ability to produce stable results over several months without any recalibration. With tools like this, mining companies – and the world at large – can be confident that the wastewater issues highlighted in Dark Waters won’t happen again.

Savings due to online monitoring of chemical composition in mine wastewater or process liquids

Written by: Uwe König, Posted by: Malvern Panalytical (


VNIR technology

Near-infrared spectroscopy is the study of interactions of electromagnetic radiation with chemical bonds of materials – the energy is either reflected, transmitted, or absorbed. Spectra are produced when the bonds in organic materials or geologic minerals interact with this energy. Spectroscopy uses a ratio between reflected energy (or absorbed energy) relative to the total amount of energy that illuminates the sample. ASD portable VNIR products use 2151 wavelength intervals and combine them into a continuous spectral signature.

ASD spectrometers utilize the optical spectroscopic region of the electromagnetic spectrum (from 350 to 2500 nanometers). ASD instruments measure over the 350 to 2500 nm wavelength range. Unlike other measurement tools that use X-ray or ultraviolet, energy in this wavelength range is non-hazardous. Reflectance spectra can be used to quickly determine a material’s properties without altering or even coming in contact with the sample. These instruments are capable of examining irregular surfaces with the same ease as a carefully prepared sample and can also be used to analyze multiple constituents when utilizing a quantitative calibration model in a single 5-second scan. The technique is non-destructive and requires little or no sample preparation. Read more about measuring a product using ASD near-infrared (NIR) in this blog post.

These highly flexible analyses are used with a broad range of research and industrial process applications. Long considered a staple technology in earth remote sensing, reflectance spectroscopy has become popular within industrial markets. It is known for being a cost-effective tool for measuring materials to obtain actionable information to help optimize processes, manage costs and improve research.

Remote sensing

This application is defined as ‘the science and art of identifying, observing and measuring an object without coming into direct contact with it’1. Often, the sun is used to illuminate the sample, or alternatively, a quartz-halogen lamp can also be used to illuminate the material. In many cases, the spectra are acquired and information created without being in physical contact with the sample.

Remote sensing can aid in mineral exploration, art restoration, archeological studies, agricultural analysis for the determination of plant health, water status, fertilizer optimization, and many more.

ASD instruments, specifically the FieldSpec range, often use the sun as a source of illumination. Visible, near-infrared, and short-wave infrared sensors in the FieldSpec collect the energy reflected from the sample as a spectrum. These spectra are then used to differentiate between various materials such as plants or minerals. FieldSpec spectroradiometers can be optionally calibrated to produce radiance and irradiance measurements of absolute energy. This allows the spectra to be used in conjunction with overflight or orbital sensors contained in satellites. They can also be used interchangeably as spectrometers by referencing with a calibrated or uncalibrated Spectralon reference panel to obtain a spectral signature.

Optical remote sensing

A spectral signature is like a fingerprint. Different surface types such as water, bare ground, and vegetation reflect radiation differently in various channels. Essentially, the configuration of the reflectance spectra allows the spectra to be used to recognize a type of material.

Ultimate Flexibility

FieldSpec is the most flexible spectrometer available today. In addition to remote sensing applications, it can also be used to create multivariate predictive models that can automatically predict material composition each time a spectrum is acquired! The FieldSpec can be used whenever and wherever it is needed, including in the laboratory or in the field as it can operate both online voltages or using a battery pack. Outstanding signal-to-noise means that portability doesn’t place a penalty on performance.

About ASD – a Malvern Panalytical brand

ASD is a Malvern Panalytical brand and delivers optical spectroscopy instruments for remote sensing, mining, and other industrial markets. They complement and extend the company’s offering towards scientific and industrial customers adding portable, handheld, benchtop, and online products.

ASD optical spectrometer and spectroradiometer instruments have many diverse application uses. They can be employed in various market sectors, such as environmental (FieldSpec), mining (TerraSpec), and food & pharma (LabSpec) and are occasionally used in forensics, cosmetics, and building materials.


1. Evelyn L. Pruitt, US Office of Naval Research


Written by: Dan Shiley, Posted by: Malvern Panalytical on


In the late 1800s, a gold rush boosted the economy of Charters Towers – an outback town in Queensland, Australia – so much that it opened its own stock exchange. Although it’s no longer trading, the building is still standing. Across the 20th century, though, the town’s fortunes see-sawed, as metal prices rose and fell, and demand for mining fluctuated.

As illustrated by Charters Towers, the mining industry is heavily influenced by external change. To take full advantage of the beneficial changes, and remain resilient in the face of detrimental ones, mining companies around the world need to anticipate, understand, and respond to the trends facing the industry.

Driven by global issues

So, what are these trends, and what are the factors behind them? Wider global issues – encompassing political, economic, technological, and environmental, social, and governmental (ESG) topics – are influencing several key trends. Next to this, declining ore grades and environmental strain mean mining increasingly happens in hard-to-reach, remote locations.

Together with developments in geometallurgy and big data, and the impact of COVID-19, these remote locations are driving the need for real-time, in-field, and automated analysis. Last but not least, growing concern for the climate and stricter governmental regulation is encouraging more thorough waste management and increased use of secondary or recycled materials.

Materials analysis: The key to navigating change

High-performance materials analysis solutions can help miners tackle the challenges and seize the opportunities among these trends. For instance, more frequent, accurate monitoring can ensure mining still delivers high-value materials despite lower-grade ores.

Online solutions enable a greater degree of automation, making work in remote locations more feasible. Portable, multi-sensor, instruments are expanding the options for real-time, in-field analysis. And waste characterization helps prevent harmful substances from reaching the environment and allows secondary materials to be recycled when possible.

Solutions to keep you prepared

At Malvern Panalytical, we provide many of these advanced materials analysis solutions. For instance, our ASD FieldSpec and portable TerraSpec Halo NIR spectrometers as well as our Epsilon 1 XRF spectrometer enable real-time, in-field mineralogical and elemental monitoring, for optimal grade control and ore blends.

What’s more, our tailored solutions include remote sensing, online, and automated options, making remote access to dangerous or inaccessible sites easier. And, when it comes to environmental monitoring, our Epsilon online XRF spectrometers rapidly detect traces of toxic elements in mine wastewater. This allows miners to optimize their waste management and take action to prevent environmental damage.

And these are just some of our solutions for the mining industry. Together with our tailored expertise and application support, they can help you be prepared for the inevitable ups and downs of mining – as the history of Charters Towers so well demonstrates.

Written by: Posted by: Malvern Panalytical (



Many of us who work in the scientific and technical side of the Malvern Panalytical business, have higher level scientific qualifications such as PhD. Even though some of us may have studied in the previous century, it’s hard to forget the struggle to get good data for a paper, or to try again to get that extra data point that would make our PhD story just that little bit better.

We feel huge respect for those of you out there who are jumping through all of these hoops at the same time as having to contend with the uncertainties of COVID. Maybe you’re not able to turn up at the lab at any time, but instead you must book a place and prepare for a visit with forms and tests. Or simply stay at home and grapple with a sense of remoteness or a frustration about a lack of good resources.

We can’t solve everything, but we’ve organized two activities specifically to help university researchers and students.

A new way to get your questions answered

The first one is the Ask an Expert! series of webinars. They are spread out across the year. You can find the program here. We have tried to schedule something for everyone. At these webinars (live or recorded) you can find out more about a particular technology that our instruments provide. The sessions are purely about the method, how to understand it, make it work for you, and how to analyze the data. If the webinar is in the future, you still have the opportunity to submit questions. Our speakers will prepare some answers for you. If the webinar is in the past, you can watch the recording and find out what other people have asked, and hear our expert’s answers.

Free XRD software licenses for academics

The second activity is an offer of a free software license which is valid for 1 year (from the date you start to use it). This offer is for X-ray diffraction (XRD) users and applies to our XRD analysis software packages HighScore Plus and AMASS. We know that it takes time to perform an analysis of data. Both Rietveld fitting or High-resolution simulation and fitting can be tricky, and you need time to think about your data and try a few strategies for interpreting it. So, in these challenging times, we’d like you to have your own personal copy and access it on your own PC. If you are a researcher or team leader, please apply for free licenses here. You need to use your official university or research institute email address. If you are a student, please ask your supervisor to apply on your behalf. They can apply for up to 3 licenses for each type of software.

If you’re particularly proud of something you’ve achieved with the software, contact us! We’d be happy to feature your results on our hot news on the research page on our website.

Continuing research is so important for the future. We salute you!


Written by: Patricia Kidd, Posted by: Malvern Panalytica (