Instrumental elemental analysis: A silent star turns 125

Why the method is today still a booster for innovation

05-Apr-2023 - Germany

Over the past 125 years, elemental analysis has conquered industry after industry. It was an indispensable tool for the pioneers of organic chemistry. In fact, it made the pioneering chemical syntheses of the 19th century possible in the first place. Elemental analysis is not only a mainstay in the chemical laboratory; its numerous applications make the world a much more sustainable place. To this day, elemental analysis keeps pace with the times and plays a key role, for example, in climate research, quality assurance of medicines and food development and safety.

Elementar Analysensysteme

Elementar Analysensysteme

Elementar Analysensysteme
Elementar Analysensysteme

Elemental analysis is the oldest industrially developed analytical technology - and today it is more in demand than ever. Elemental analyzers are used in the laboratories of industry, government agencies, universities and research institutes worldwide. The analysis results help to better understand life in its elements and to derive measures from them that ensure quality, advance research and development, and promote sustainability.

All-rounder elemental analysis

Measures derived from the results of elemental analysis influence our daily lives - largely without our knowledge. One important area of application is the development and quality control of a wide variety of products, such as food and pharmaceuticals, as well as metals used in vehicles. In addition, elemental analysis can contribute to a clean environment by providing important bases for decisions on environmental protection measures. The important screening parameter TOC (total organic carbon) allows a quick check of water, sediment and soil quality. For research purposes, elemental analysis is often used in combination with stable isotope analysis - for example, in climate research or in the geosciences to find out more about the origin of the earth. However, these are by no means all the areas of application for elemental analysis.

Developing a taste of food

Elemental analysis also plays a decisive role in the food industry. This is because the protein content, which can be determined based on the nitrogen content, is an important factor for product quality and price. Not only does it have to be shown on the end product by means of food labeling, it is also an important parameter in the development of texture, consistency and taste of foods. When developing new products such as plant-based meats, protein content is an indispensable compass for the food designer. By monitoring product quality, it helps to vary the composition of the product until it fully meets our tastes.

This procedure is often associated with a high sample throughput. This is why many customers from the food industry opt for Elementar's fast nitrogen and protein analyzers. This allows the entire production process to be made considerably more efficient.

Precise, simple and sustainable

In addition to its immense efficiency, elemental analysis also impresses with numerous other advantages. The analysis results obtained are characterized by impressive precision and accuracy; even traces of elements can be reliably detected, regardless of high contents of other elements such as carbon. The analyses themselves require little effort and allow a high sample throughput. Sample preparation is fast; with sufficient homogenization, samples need only be weighed. The elements C, H, N and S can be determined within just ten minutes; in addition, the analyses can be carried out fully automatically 24/7. The instruments are low-maintenance and very user-friendly, which again significantly increases sample throughput. In addition, elemental analysis is much more sustainable compared to other methods, as no toxic residues hazardous to the environment are produced during operation.

Due to this multitude of advantages, the list of applications has been constantly expanded over the past 125 years, during which the analytical method has been continuously refined. Each new application makes the method more valuable.

Pioneering work - from the beginning until today

Even after 125 years, both the further development of elemental analysis itself and the possible applications have not yet been exhausted. Elementar Analysensysteme GmbH, which emerged from the Heraeus Group in 1990, has been a pioneer in this field for decades. The company thus seamlessly continues the pioneering work of those who paved the way for elemental analysis. At that time, important key technologies were already being developed, thus laying the foundation for today's elemental analysis.

Anniversary publication - everything at a glance

Elementar Analysensysteme GmbH has used the anniversary of elemental analysis as an opportunity to trace the development of elemental analysis from then until today with all its milestones in the form of a commemorative publication. But not only in the sense of a historical summary. Rather, the document also highlights the special features and advantages of elemental analysis - in terms of efficiency, precision and sustainability, also in comparison with other methods. Numerous application examples provide impressive proof of this. The perspectives of this great technology, whose future has just begun and which Elementar is actively helping to shape, are also illuminated. The commemorative publication will appear in the course of the first quarter of 2023.


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