Prevent the wrong alloy from causing environmental disaster

Bruker Elemental’s spark spectrometer Q4 Mobile analyses 316 / 316L alloys.

Optical emission spectrometers can contribute decisively to prevent accidents. Bruker Elemental’s Q4 Mobile provides the petrochemical and metals industries with a compact metal analyser, capable of analysing the critical carbon content in used steel. The smallest concentrations of carbon in the ppm range impact the steel’s durability, strength and weldability.

In April 2010, seven employees were killed in an explosion caused by a high-temperature hydrogen attack (HTHA) in a refinery in the US State of Washington. Since the accident was caused by metal fatigue, mobile OES instruments were needed. Since then, relevant equipment, especially process piping systems have to be tested in accordance with the “Material Verification Program” (guidelines API 578) of the American Petroleum Institute. Components that do not meet the required specifications are identified and replaced.


For this task Bruker Elemental´s Q4 Mobile performs rapid metal analysis, identification and sorting. The highlight is its mobility. With an optional four-wheeled trolley, the spark spectrometer and accessories easily roll to the place where analysis is needed.

Controlled by an intelligent energy management system, Q4 Mobile can use any standard power source, even a cigarette lighter in a car. Adaptive Ambient Control (AAC), which adjusts the optics automatically to the ambient temperature, ensures a short preparation time. Long setup times are a thing of the past. Work is carried out with the help of a handy probe, which allows ergonomic handling thanks to the lightweight, flexible hybrid cable, even during prolonged activity. Depending on the requirement, whether in spark or arc excitation, the quick change adapter allows switching the analysis mode in seconds.

For shorter wavelengths such as UV, a rapidly modifiable probe with high resolution optics is available. Thus even the most demanding applications, such as C, S or N determination, are possible. This underlines strongly the outstanding Bruker analytics of the Q4 Mobile spectrometer.

“For 316 and 316L stainless steel alloys, the difference in the carbon concentration is indeed minimal, but this difference is of decisive influence on the respective corrosion behaviour,” says Bruker Product Manager Hans Dominick.

“Our Q4 Mobile analyses carbon contents in the corresponding ppm range and can thus clearly determine the respective alloy. The use of components with incorrect element composition is prevented and expensive failures or dangerous accidents avoided. Via a display on the probe, the analysed alloy designation is directly shown. Nothing could be faster.”

“High capability, practical relevance, ease of use and functional mobility – these are the strengths of the Q4 Mobile. Thus Bruker fulfils all customer requirements. Not only the petrochemical industry appreciates the Q4 Mobile in the implementation of current guidelines for material control and material testing on oil rigs or pipelines. The Positive Material Identification (PMI) in incoming goods inspection or metal sorting is another important use for material traders, in which rapid analysis brings clarity and ensures functional processes. Downtime costs a lot of money, and this can be avoided with Q4 Mobile.”

For more information, contact your nearest IMP Branch, Gauteng TEL: 011 916 5000, KwaZulu Natal TEL: 031 764 2821, Western Cape TEL: 021 852 6133, Eastern Cape TEL: 041 364 2544, Free State TEL: 018 293 3333 or email: website: