X-ray diffraction

Minerals and most synthetic crystalline products may be swiftly and reliably identified with the X-ray diffraction method. At the same time, the amount of each component can be estimated.

The method is economical and even small samples, less than 1 mg in weight, can be studied. However, the sample must be crystalline; the method cannot be used to identify amorphous materials such as glass. X-ray diffraction studies, such as identifying kaolinite, may occasionally be complemented by other methods like thermal analysis or infrared spectrophotometry. GTK’s research laboratory features a Bruker D8 Discover A25 system and software.

Characteristics of clay minerals must be analysed before use

Some clay minerals have unique properties when compared to other minerals. They may show cation exchange capacity, interaction with water or interaction with organic compounds. They can also swell to several times their original size.

Clay is used as a mineral product for mechanically stabilising soil and bedrock structures. Mineral clay swelling in weakness zones of the bedrock seriously impedes underground construction, which makes advance accurate identification and analysis of their characteristics necessary.

Stable clay minerals are also used as fillers in the paper and paint industries. The versatile applications for clay minerals have made them an important subject for research. For example, GTK’s laboratory is cooperating with a customer in an on-going method development project related to bentonitic clays.

GTK’s X-ray diffraction laboratory conducts mineral analytics to internal and external customers, including for example:

  • Characterization of bentonitic clays
  • Determination of the components in dry cement
  • Identification of industrial and ore minerals
  • Determination of the mineral composition of ballast material and sand
  • Identification of the components in technical products
  • Mineralogy of the weakness zones of underground rock facilities
  • Identification of components in biogenic fuels and peat from ash