Use of portable XRF in Coltan exploration

Use of Portable XRF In Coltan Exploration


Portable Analytical Solutions

Field Portable XRF

Is Factory Calibration of Portable XRF In Coltan Exploration Accurate and Reliable, or is user calibration required?

A paper published by the Department of Geology at Brandon University in Canada answers this question. 


The Purpose of the Paper

While FPXRF is known as a technique that can produce fast and accurate results (depending on the concentration, sample type and operational conditions) with little or no sample preparation, there were still some questions around the reliability of the factory calibration.


Field-Portable X-Ray Fluorescence (FPXRF) has many applications in the earth and environmental sciences, including Coltan (Columbite-Tantalite) exploration, mining and trading. Common elements of interest including Ta, Nb, Sn, W and Fe can be easily identified and quantified using FPXRF, which can simultaneously analyze a wide range of elements from Mg to U, with detection limits down to a few ppm for some elements.


The paper discusses the analysis of 21 dry powder specimens using a ThermoFisher Niton XL3t-950 with x-ray excitation at 50 kV, 200 µA, using Ag anode, compared to lab data of the same samples.


It explains in detail the application of this analytical technique on Coltan and associated metals (Ta, Nb, Sn, W and Fe), as well as suitability of the factory calibration on these metals and benefits of a user calibration.


The Findings


As the paper states, it is proven that this technique is very beneficial to any project; however, the users need to be familiar with limits of the instrument and adjust their expectations accordingly. The comprehensive Camiro study (Hall et al., 2014) showed that in many cases, in order to use FPXRF as a quantitative tool a user calibration is required.


This research is also an example of how the accuracy of raw FPXRF data can be improved applying the user calibration. It shows that for coltan samples, the threshold for the acceptable results (based on the factory calibration) varies depending on the element of interest and the concentrations. This adjustment, or user calibration, is done using certified standards or known samples which have been analyzed by laboratory techniques. 


To read the full paper, please click on the button below:

New distribution partnership with LemnaTec GmbH

New distribution partnership with LemnaTec GmbH

Portable Analytical Solutions is pleased to announce a new distribution partnership with LemnaTec GmbH, a global specialist for digital phenotyping and digital seed testing.

Juergen Kreis, Managing Director of LemnaTec explains “With this move, LemnaTec broadens its presence in the South Pacific and strengthens support for its customers in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Island regions. With our growing range of phenotyping solutions, customer proximity and consulting competence are of paramount importance. With PAS, we have found an experienced partner that brings added value to our local customers through its excellent technical understanding as well as its wide range of complementary products.”

Paul Martin, our very own Managing Director at PAS, says “With the growing market space of Plant Phenotyping in our region PAS is excited to partner with LemnaTec to bring great products to our customers and support the current LemnaTec customers in the region. Supplying complete solutions to our customers is important to PAS, and we see a great future ahead with the LemnaTec product portfolio.”

For over 11 years, Portable Analytical Solutions has proudly supplied scientific product solutions to industrial, governmental, education, research and science institutions throughout Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific Islands. PAS focus is on the supply of Lab to Field Solutions to improve application development, implementation and support for our customers and their products. For further information, please contact us.

Airborne Hyperspectral Imaging Solutions


Created By Analytik, United kingdom

Watch the video to find out more about airborne hyperspectral imaging.

To appreciate the significance of airborne hyperspectral imaging, Analytik has created an informative video to understand what hyperspectral imaging is, and how it works.

Airborne Hyperspectral Imaging (or Remote Sensing) collects and process information across different bands of the electromagnetic spectrum via an aerial vehicle, such as a drone. Hyperspectral Imaging Sensors collect spectral information from a large area (such as a forest) as a set of images, allowing the identification of objects and materials through their individual characteristics (or “spectral fingerprint”).

The electromagnetic spectrum consists of multiple bands of electromagnetic radiation which is separated by size and frequency.

Want to learn more? Continue watching the video provided by Analytik to understand more about hyperspectral imaging.

HeadWall Products

Airborne Solution example


Headwall’s Co-Aligned Dual VNIR-SWIR sensor package with co-aligned pixels for superb imaging performance from 400-2500nm.

Key Benefits of the Hyperspec VNIR – SWIR Co-Aligned from HeadWall Photonics.

  • Superb imaging performance
  • Wideband coverage
  • Pixel co-alignment through software
  • Small form-factor, lightweight
  • Robust and environmentally rugged
  • Aberration-corrected
  • High spatial and spectral resolution
  • Wide field-of-view

View the quick start for airborne Systems – witness application examples

Headwall has released a serious of quick start videos for Airborne Systems demonstrating application examples and how to use the Software & Systems. Simply check them out below……

Quick Start UAV-Nano Part 01: Unboxing

Quick Start UAV-Nano Part 02: Software Pre Flight Preparation

Quick Start UAV-Nano Part 03: Flight and Data Download

Quick Start UAV-Nano Part 04A: Data Post Processing

Quick Start UAV Nano Part 04B: Post-Processing of High-Performance GPS/IMU Data

Webinars & Demos: Software & Systems

Headwall LiDAR Tools Tutorial with Examples of LAS DEM HSI-LiDAR Fusion

Headwall Hyperspectral Imaging Seminar at the University of Colorado – Boulder

Important COVID-19 Announcement: Portable Analytical Solutions

Important COVID-19 Announcement:

Portable Analytical Solutions

As the COVID-19 virus and its impact continues to evolve on a daily basis, PAS remains focused on the health and safety of our employees and customers, as well as our community.

We’re doing everything we can to continue delivering our products and services to minimise any impact to our clients. We have implemented some travel restrictions on our staff, but we are still here to support you and your needs. We are working hard to ensure an uninterrupted, dependable service is delivered by our Sales, Customer Service, Support and Administration staff.


Continuation of PAS Virtual Demos / Training:
Until further notice, our Product and Sales teams are continuing to offer and assist in virtual demonstrations. Please contact our Sales team for further information.

With many staff now working from home, we are still able to offer online/VC user and radiation training where attendees are located in multiple locations.


PAS Customer Support:
Our Customer Service team is still fully operational and available for support, instrument repairs, and spare parts. They can be reached using the following contact information:
+61 2 4381 2844


PAS Visitors:
We are currently limiting the number of Sales and Administration employees working at our office facility. If you wish to visit our office, please call in advance to inform us.


PAS Building / Equipment Sanitation:
To protect our staff and customers, we are cleaning and disinfecting all work areas and equipment as per suggested government guidelines. Products entering and leaving the Service Department will also be cleaned.

We will continue to closely monitor the situation, stay focused on keeping our employees healthy, and provide the support you need.



Paul Martin
Managing Director
Portable Analytical Solutions Pty Ltd.

MicroPHAZIR AS Performance Application Note 2020

Measurement of Asbestos Containing Materials using a Portable NIR Instrument

Dr Jimmy Bester, Paul Martin, Sydney Australia


Portable Near-­Infrared (PNIR) spectroscopy has been effectively and reliably used to measure minerals in a wide variety of samples. The identification of Asbestos Containing Materials (ACM) is possible by PNIR and as such, the performance of the products and the results generated are of great interest to industry. Comparing results obtained via laboratory ­based PLM­DS technique and that of PNIR is key to demonstrating the performance and improved capability of these portable instruments.


Current industry standards for measuring ACM requires a portion of the sample to be removed from its location and sent to a laboratory for analysis by Polarized Light Microscopy with Dispersion Staining. Although this is an accredited method, there are several technical challenges to PLM including, but not limited to the technical skill of an operator to interpret what is being visually seen, that it can only detect 3 types of asbestos accurately adding to the time delays on getting results back from the lab.
However, measurement of ACM by PNIR allows for the detection of 6 regulated asbestos minerals including chrysotile, crocidolite, anthophyllite, tremolite, actinolite and amosite, meaning a high chance to correctly identify the presence of ACM if contained in the sample. The PNIR is simple to use as in most cases the samples are not required to be removed from the site and testing times of approximately 6 sec, allows for a rapid in­situ screen of possible ACM material.



Two (2) Version 5 ThermoScientific microPHAZIR AS Spectrometers were used by trained operators to analyse a total of 49 mixed origin samples. These particular samples were chosen as they are used in the NATA laboratory round­-robin proficiency testing programme and were accessed for analysing to compare the PLM­DS technique and the PNIR results as accurately as possible.

Each of the 49 samples was scanned 5 times by both PNIR instruments, by placing the sample in contact with the nose of the PNIR and measuring for the fixed time of approximately 6 sec. A large proportion of the samples provided were smaller than the AS 9649 Standard recommendation of 10mm2 but the design of the instrument made it possible to make diffuse reflection measurements from the portion of the sample. The sample was relocated after each scan in order to cover as large an area of the sample as possible, this simulated ‘on­site’ analysis conditions and no additional sample preparation was carried out.

Results from the PNIR were reported on the device as the measured type of asbestos, but as the PNIR instruments are primarily used for detecting the presence or absence of ACM, results were converted to ACM present or NAD (No Asbestos Detected). Results were reported by averaging the 5 readings i.e. 3 or more of the same reading indicating the result. Table 1 shows the average results for each instrument compared to the PLM lab data

MicroPHAZIR AS Asbestos Analyser
Thermo Scientific’s microPHAZIR AS can provide ACM identification in seconds

 Thermo Scientific’s microPHAZIR AS can provide ACM identification in seconds

Table 1 Average of results or all samples

Table 1 Average of results or all samples


Results for each sample obtained from the two PNIR instruments can be seen in Table 1, results were constant between the two PNIR instruments, indicating the stability of both the instruments and the calibration modes. Worth noting, for samples identified as UMF (unknown Mineral Fibres) by PLM methods, PNIRS results are assumed to be correct as NAD.
In summary both PNIR instruments correctly read 48 of the 49 samples or 98%, with both instruments incorrectly reading sample PRC­-1 the putty sample. This one incorrect reading was not investigated further for the purpose of this application note, but maybe later.

Table 2 Summary table

Table 2 Summary table


Based on the results obtained, it is clear that the microPHAZIR AS PNIR is able to consistently and repeatably measure a wide range of ACM materials.

The use of the microPHAZIR AS in the waste transfer, demolition, emergency response and other critical applications is highly beneficial to improving the safety and protection of workers and the public.

Screen Shot 2020-03-10 at 12.03.33 pm

Note: For more details on this application note please request a copy of the PAS­ technical paper “PORTABLE NEAR­INFRARED SPECTROSCOPY (PNIRS) TECHNOLOGY FOR THE IDENTIFICATION OF ASBESTOS IN BUILDING MATERIALS’ by emailing

Request the Completed White Paper


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Comments regarding QLD Safety Alert of the use of NIR Spectrometers

Comments regarding QLD Safety Alert of the use of NIR Spectrometers

Recently the QLD government posted a Safety alert regarding the use of NIR spectrometers for the identification of Asbestos containing materials.  As we feel the alert was focused at the Thermo Scientific MicroPHAZIR AS spectrometer, we consider it is best to clarify the situation from our perspective.

Firstly, and most importantly; PAS agrees with the comment made in the alert that the only approved method noted in the Queensland Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011, is that samples need to be analysed by a NATA accredited Laboratory using a PLM technique referred to in AS  4964-2004. As our customers and potential customers have been made aware, the microPHAZIR AS is not intended to be used to replace laboratory sampling methods, as at this time, it is not an approved method.

Both the manufacturer and PAS have carried out extensive internal and independent testing through groups such as KIWA laboratories in Europe, these tests have satisfied many of our local and state governments, emergency response departments and private sector customers throughout Australia and New Zealand, who have been using the MicroPHAZIR AS as a support tool in their working environments for a number of years.

In a meeting recently held with a representative of the QLD government, it was indicated to PAS that more peer-reviewed literature was required,especially around the performance of the new,improved version 5 MicroPHAZIR AS system. PAS has taken this advice and through our in-house Asbestos expert Dr Jimmy Bester, started to work on having these Peer-reviewed papers prepared through local University teams.

PAS is committed to complying with local laws and regulations, and working with industry to improve the safety of workers, and the public through the innovation of instrumentation such as the MicroPHAZIR AS.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me directly on 02 43812844.

Paul Martin

Managing Director

Portable Analytical Solutions Pty Ltd

Headwall & Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Awarded Contract for High-Endurance Fixed-Wing Hyperspectral Imaging UAV for Wide Area Precision Agriculture

Headwall & Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Awarded Contract for High-Endurance Fixed-Wing Hyperspectral Imaging UAV for Wide Area Precision Agriculture

Project funded in part by the BIRD (Binational Industrial Research and Development) Foundation

Bolton, MA – August 1, 2019 –Headwall, the industry leader in turnkey hyperspectral imaging solutions for remote sensing and precision agriculture, and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), a leader in UAV technology, announced that a project valued at  approximately $1 million USD for large-scale precision agriculture has been awarded by the Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Foundation to develop a high endurance UAV and hyperspectral imaging solution for agricultural customers with thousands of hectares of crops.

Image courtesy Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI); drone over agricultural fieldDevelopment of the Precision Agriculture Decision Support System will utilise a custom-designed and manufactured wide-area hyperspectral imaging payload and a fixed-wing UAV designed for beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) missions, as well as analytics that allow accurate assessment of crop and soil conditions as well as crop disease over a wide area with high resolution and positional accuracy.

“Headwall has always strived for commercialisation of advanced spectral imaging technology for the benefit of customers worldwide,” David Bannon, CEO of Headwall commented. “IAI combines rugged and reliable military technology with commercial know-how for this project to assist farmers with decisions based on comprehensive yet rapid reports made possible by our sensor systems. Deployment of high endurance solutions for wide area data acquisition integrated with advanced hyperspectral and multispectral sensors is a game changer for the agriculture industry”.

Projects submitted to the BIRD Foundation are reviewed by evaluators appointed by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Israel Innovation Authority.

Dr. Amiram Appelbaum, Chief Scientist at the Ministry of Economy and Industry, Chairman of the Israel Innovation Authority and co-Chairman of BIRD’s Board of Governors said, “The U.S. is one of Israel’s major partners for innovation. We are proud of our long-standing collaboration with the BIRD Foundation that has resulted in such spectacular successes over the decades and numerous groundbreaking technological innovations offered by both Israeli and U.S recipients of the grant. We are confident that this year’s grant recipients in the various fields and the new projects approved will prove vital for the population worldwide.”

About Headwall

Headwall Photonics is a leading designer and manufacturer of spectral instrumentation for remote sensing, advanced machine vision, and government/defense markets. With a worldwide base of end-user and OEM customers, Headwall enjoys a market leadership position through the design and manufacture of spectral solutions that are customised for application-specific performance. The Company is based in Massachusetts where it has two locations (Bolton and Fitchburg). European operations (Headwall BVBA) are located near Brussels, Belgium.

About IAI

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) is a leader in both the defense and commercial markets, delivering state-of-the-art technologies and systems in all domains – providing customers with tailored, cutting-edge solutions in the unique challenges that they face. IAI provides a wide range of solutions and services from special mission aircraft to advanced unmanned aerial systems (UAS).

About the BIRD Foundation

The BIRD (Binational Industrial Research and Development) Foundation works to encourage and facilitate cooperation between U.S. and Israeli companies in a wide range of technology sectors and offers funding to selected projects.

Hyperspectral Imaging in Quality Control for the Global Meat Industry

Let’s take a look at the role of Hyperspectral Imaging in Quality and Integrity for the Global Meat Industry.

One of the international speakers at next week’s ICoMST 2018 (64th International Congress of Meat Science and Technology) is Dr Marlon dos Reis, Senior Scientist – Food and Bio-based Products at AgResearch in New Zealand.

ICoMST is to be held in Melbourne with the theme of Quality and Integrity for Global Consumers. e.g. Test whether lamb meat is really lamb.

We can’t wait to hear Dr dos Reis speak on “Chemometrics and hyperspectral imaging applied to assessment of chemical, textural and structural characteristics of meat”, corresponding to his work to be published in Volume 144 of the Meat Science Journal (October 2018)

A video of Dr dos Reis’ presentation will be available after the congress.

Applications for Chemometrics in Meat Science

In his career, Dr dos Reis has focus ed on the application and development of spectroscopic techniques for the assessment of meat, including techniques based on nuclear magnetic resonance, NIR spectroscopy and Hyperspectral imaging.

Dr Marlon dos Reis, New Zealand - Hyperspectral Imaging Expert

Attracted to AgResearch in New Zealand in 2007, Marlon is excited to apply chemometrics across so many applications and we are excited to learn from him first-hand. In an interview recorded on the AgResearch website, he explained his current projects.

“In Chemometrics we develop and apply statistical and mathematical models to interpret and do better use of data related to chemistry. For example in food assurance we collected spectroscopic data (e.g. near infrared spectra) which brings lots of information about the chemical composition and structure of food.

“This type of data is very easy to collect but needs chemometric models to be useful. So I develop chemometric models for applications such authentication (e.g. test whether lamb meat is really lamb), to predict functional attributes (e.g. bulk density of dairy powder) assess whether the product is still within the expected shelf-life and others.”

A Major Focus for Headwall Photonics and Portable Analytical Solutions (PAS)

Using Hyperspectral Imaging in Food Safety and Pathogen Detection

Headwall’s Infrared Hyperspectral solutions offer a depth of vision far beyond the capabilities of any other technology.

It is a major step forward in the successful detection of foreign matter and pathogens that are unseen visually but impact the safety of the foods we eat. From poultry and seafood to lamb, beef, and specialty crops, spectral imaging delivers a level of material classification that far exceeds typical RGB cameras.

PAS has been the Australia / New Zealand distributor of Headwall spectral imaging including the award-winning Hyperspec® instruments since 2013. We provide sales support, service and training for these application-specific, rugged and versatile analysers.

Contact PAS about these key products


Headwall Photonics Increases It’s Visibility

A vibrant new website from Headwall Photonics highlights even more clearly its impressive array of industry-leading spectrometry instrumentation and brilliant industry solutions.

Catering for diverse applications across Remote Sensing, Advanced Machine Vision, Medical/Biotech and Defense/Government, the new site provides greater ease of navigation.

This enables site visitors to quickly appreciate how Headwall’s range of products correspond with specific demands for data capture, management and analysis.


Headwall’s Spectral Imaging Sensors are used EVERYWHERE!

PAS is excited about the benefits of the new site for our customers who may be time-poor, overloaded with information and working on a deadline.

One valuable page on the new site is Published Research which catalogues selected scholarly articles demonstrating some of the myriad of applications for spectral instruments.

“These papers describe just a sampling of the fascinating applications using Headwall’s hyperspectral and multispectral imaging sensors,” the page reads. “From remote sensing and medical/biotech to cultural preservation and food inspection, Headwall is THE industry leader in spectral imaging solutions.”


Access Headwall through Portable Analytical Solutions

PAS has been the Australia / New Zealand distributor of Headwall spectral imaging including the award-winning Hyperspec® instruments since 2013. We provide sales support, service and training for these application-specific, rugged and versatile analysers.

Contact PAS about these key products

Headwall Nano Hyperspec On DJI
Headwall Hyperspec Nano
Headwall Hyperspec Nano With Vector Nav

Precision Ag study employs FieldSpec4

Measuring solar radiation in Australian study with the ASD FieldSpec4

A new article published by Apple and Pear Australia Limited (APAL) highlights an innovative application of the FieldSpec4 multi-spectral radiometer to measure solar radiation exposure on apple and pear crops, covered with several varieties of netting.

As the article’s abstract reads, “Netting intercepts solar radiation, reducing the amount of energy reaching fruit and hence lowering the risk of sunburn and colour bleaching of fruit. However, netting also lowers radiation 
that is needed for photosynthesis and colour development. In this article we present some preliminary data on the effects of netting on some important wavelengths of light.”

The FieldSpec4 was a key part of the study, measuring solar radiation in 2nm increments from 350nm to 2500nm, extracting wavebands corresponding to solar radiation, ultraviolet A radiation, photosynthetically active radiation and infrared radiation. A black curtain placed around the radiometer minimised reflective radiation.

The study describes the positioning of the spectrometer which remained stationary below the netting, while the netting was moved laterally throughout the process. The spectrometer was facing upwards.

ASD FieldSpec4 positioning

FieldSpec4 for your application

The wide range of portable analysis solutions available from PAS are versatile and customisable to an amazing degree, dependent on the specific demands of each application. Our engineers are specialists in calibrating instruments to suit your particular objectives, constraints and conditions.

Learn more about the comprehensive ASD FieldSpec range available through PAS in Australia or New Zealand. Consider other hyperspectral analysers for different situations, such as airborne sensors.

Read the article on the apple/pear production using the ASD FieldSpec4 multi-spectral here