The most common types of coal (lignite, bituminous and anthracite) are distinguished by their different chemical and physical properties. The calorific value of coal can be determined by analyzing its carbon content, for example with combustion analyzers. In addition, efficient management of the desulfurization plant requires control of the sulfur content. Compared to the large amount of coal a typical laboratory sample consists of - a 10 liter bucket or even more - the sample volume required for analysis is fairly low, only approx. 1 g. The standard DIN 51701 defines the sample amount to be tested as this relates to the particle size: The bigger the particles are, the more sample material is required.
Reliable and accurate analysis results can only be guaranteed by reproducible sample preparation. This consists of transforming a laboratory sample into a representative part sample with homogeneous analytical fineness. Retsch offers a comprehensive range of the most modern mills and crushers for coarse, fine and ultra-fine size reduction of almost any material. The product range also comprises a wide choice of grinding tools and accessories which helps to ensure contamination-free preparation of a great variety of sample materials. The selection of the correct grinding tool depends on the sample material and the subsequent method of analysis. Different grinding tools have different characteristics, such as required energy input, hardness or wear-resistance.
A variety of methods can be used to analyze solid materials. What they all have in common is the necessity to use a representative, homogeneous analysis sample which needs to have a particular fineness, depending on the analytical method used. The size reduction and homogenization of solids is usually carried out with laboratory crushers and grinders.
A faultless and comparable analysis is closely linked to an accurate sample handling. Only a sample representative of the initial material can provide meaningful analysis results. Rotating dividers and rotary tube dividers are an important means to ensure the representativeness of a sample and thus the reproducibility of the analysis. Correct sample handling consequently minimizes the probability of a production stop due to incorrect analysis results. Thus correct sample handling is the key to effective quality control.
The preparation of a mixture of organic and inorganic samples holds some difficulties: whereas sand, clay and stones can usually be ground to homogeneous samples with suitable laboratory mills, the high energy input can cause samples with organic components such as fat or starch to cake. Carsten Bunn, a laboratory technician at the waste water treatment laboratory BRW, has to deal with this problem every day. He treats samples which are taken from the sand traps of the wastewater treatment plants and consist of exactly that mixture. The sediments of household and industry waste water not only contain sand, clay or leaves but anything that people nowadays dispose of through the sewer system: cellulose, hair and especially food residues.
Why Size Reduction? A reliable and accurate analysis can only be guaranteed by reproducible sample preparation. The "Art of Milling" describes the process of turning a laboratory sample into a representative part sample with homogeneous analytical fineness.