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    Going for the Gold: Benefits of a Gold Trap in Mercury Analysis

    Posted by Aaron Keller on Jul 25, 2023 12:05:30 PM

    Benefits of Gold Trap in Hg Analysis_Blog Social Media Image-1The gold standard. Go for the gold. A gold medal.

    Gold is highly prized for its beauty, as a measure of wealth, a jewelry mainstay and more. When it comes to the analysis of mercury, gold has a very particular value in obtaining data at the ultra-trace level.

    Gold traps are a very useful tool for analyzing mercury. Leveraging the ability of gold to create an amalgam with mercury, mercury can be retained from a sample with high selectivity. Gold miners have used mercury to extract gold particulates that can be missed while mining, boiling off the mercury to refine the gold.

    We use the same principle in reverse by using gold traps to analyze mercury. By passing a sample containing mercury through a gold sand trap, the mercury is retained. This allows the mercury sample to be collected, while all waste and contaminants pass through without being analyzed. When we are ready for analysis, the trap is heated to remove the mercury from the amalgam.

    Once collected, the whole sample of mercury can be analyzed at once. This is perfect for an ultra-trace level of analysis, because this method increases the sensitivity through collection. This continuous flow with amalgamation set-up also provides the benefit of removing the contaminants from analysis, since the mercury is analyzed after the rest of the sample has already passed through the detector.

    But “Why gold,” you ask? While mercury makes amalgams with many metals, gold does not react and deteriorate with continued absorbance and release of the mercury samples like other amalgams can. This allows for a long lifetime of sample running with the same trap.

    Teledyne Leeman Labs offers two instruments that use gold traps. The Hydra II C, which combusts solid state samples, is perfect for complex sample runs without digestion. The QuickTrace© M-8000 is versatile, allowing for three modes of operation: non-gold, single gold trap and double gold trap. The QuickTrace M-8000 is the gold standard, so to speak, when running ultra-trace level mercury analysis using atomic fluorescence.

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    Tags: Hg analysis, mercury analysis, QuickTrace, gold