Class is in session

For my very first post, I’m taking the blog writing challenge for this week. By the way, I’m taking poll about this very post. Please be sure to vote at the bottom of this post. Thanks! I’ll get started. Have you ever wondered how to create a method to analyze catalysts? What’s that?…did you say no? Well today’s your lucky day!

I’ll begin with sharing what a catalyst is. A catalyst causes a chemical reaction to go faster. I have the awesome opportunity to analyze catalysts everyday. My job is to analyze the composition of a catalyst! Can you get excited!

In order to make this possible I first must have a method developed. Today, I get the chance to share this information with you. That’s right. Y-O-U. This is valuable. You just never know when you’ll need how to do this. So here goes…

First you’ll need to gather information about the catalyst you are to analyze. For example which chemical elements do you expect the catalyst to be made of. Secondly, you’ll need to know how much or the expected concentration ranges of each element. This information can be found most likely from a formulation or a recipe by a very brilliant PhD. Once all the above has been established, you’re ready to prepare your calibration standards for your method. You can also purchase premade standards with certified values that meet the required concentration ranges.

Ok are we still awake? The next step is to create your method on the instrument. For this purpose, you will be using a Wavelength Dispersive Xray Fluorescence instrument. Wait?…a what-what? No worries it’s not as bad as it sounds and I will spare all the juicy the details about this piece of equipment…think of it as a really expensive scanner. Anyway once your method is created, you set it based on what your standards read. The instrument will record or scan the standards according to whatever known value that you’ve assigned for each standard. Each standard is then correlated by an intensity from the instrument.

If you’re still reading this, you’re almost done. Next, check for any matrix effects, elemental overlaps, and apply corrections to your calibrations. Once this is complete, use a check sample with known values and measure it against your newly created method. Voila! You’ve just created a method to analyze catalyst. Now is the data correct? In theory, it should be but in the real world now that’s a different post entirely.
*Note this is a very abbreviated procedure. It actually takes several days, weeks, and several months to complete this task. How come so long you say?…I don’t know but I will let you know when I finish the method I’ve been working on since last December.

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