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New online/atline splitter designs for laboratory automation – feasibility results


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Author M Lischka, A Hollweg and K H Esbensen


Two new splitter designs for intercepting moving streams of matter are presented, the variable cross-stream splitter (vCSS) and the rotary stream splitter (RSS), which are intended for implementation in a fully automated modus. The vCSS facilitates obtaining up to three subsamples with different splitting ratios from automated laboratory flow paths, while the RSS divides the intercepted sample into 16 equal analytical aliquots. The splitters can process a wide range of dry, granular and free-flowing materials (<5 mm). The required weight for each subsample can be set without mechanical adjustments in the case of the vCSS. Typical applications are subsampling/splitting for X-ray fluorescence pelletisation (or fused beads) or splitting for average shift composite sampling or grain size analysis. The vCSS combines the advantages of riffle splitting (three user-defined subsample masses) with miniature bed blending and can accept up to 15 kg in total incoming sample mass. In practice, the automated vCSS can deal with unlimited ingoing mass fluxes, while the RSS is designed to operate at a user-defined fixed subsampling rate (1/16th in the tested version). Both splitters have the potential to be optimised and evaluated according to an application/user-defined total sampling error (TSE) + total analytical error (TAE) threshold. Both splitters were tested under adverse conditions and with compositions involving three components with properties representing typical mass fluxes and components concentrations in industrial and technological systems: phosphate concentrate 89.00 per cent (<500 µm), slag ten per cent (>2 mm) and glass spheres one per cent

(750–1000 µm). The slag particles vary widely in particle shape, aspect ratio and surface roughness, while the glass spheres are extremely prone to bouncing and segregation (spillage). This test system is extremely difficult to split and thus constitutes a realistic worst-case scenario. While the vCSS does not comply strictly with Theory of Sampling demands for correctness, both splitters may well be able to deliver fit-for-purpose representative results if/when tested properly. Average relative mass deviations ranged from 1.89 per cent for phosphate concentrate (relative standard deviations of 20-fold repeated splitting) to 4.72 per cent for glass spheres and 13.04 per cent for slag. For the RSS, the average replication experiment splitting variation was 2.89 per cent for phosphate concentrate, 4.82 per cent for glass spheres and 11.1 per cent for slag. Both new automated online splitters would therefore appear to be able to be tuned to fit-for-purpose representivity (defined here as maximum relative reproducibility <5 per cent) for many non-extreme materials; however, it is always imperative to test every new type/class of material empirically. There is a wide commercial potential for important materials and commodities sectors, including food, feed, drugs (pharmaceutical), secondary raw materials, recyclates, agricultural products and seeds. CITATION:

Lischka, M, Hollweg, A and Esbensen, K H, 2017. New
online/atline splitter designs for laboratory automation – feasibility results,
in Proceedings Eighth World Conference on Sampling and Blending , pp 159–166 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).