Real-Time Elemental Analysis of Fuel, Petroleum and Other Liquids Using LIBS

A.A. Bolshakov, S.J. Pandey, X. Mao, C. Liu, J.H. Yoo, and R.E. Russo
Applied Spectra, Inc., United States

Keywords: Fuel, chemical analysis, laser ablation, sensor

The leading cause of aviation fuel thermal stability failures is attributed to contamination by metal traces. Dissolved metal compounds cannot be filtered out. Copper is the worst of these contaminants that may trigger a fail at concentration 0.05 ppm. Admiralty metal (70% Cu, 30% Zn) is used as fittings on fuel hoses on aircraft carriers that may cause fuel contaminated quickly. There is a need to monitor jet fuel cleanliness in real time in a field environment, and be operable by military personnel. The Air Force currently performs trace analysis of fuel using ICP-OES in fixed regional laboratories that require expert professionals, sophisticated equipment, expensive consumables, and can take up to 10 days. We propose to develop a compact fuel analyzer capable of quantifying trace elements, both in dissolved and micro-particulate forms. LIBS technology enables rapid direct chemical analysis and requires no sample preparation, no consumables, and does not generate acidic waste. We expect to attain at least ppm-level sensitivity for 25 elements: aluminum, barium, calcium, chromium, cobalt, iron, lithium, lead, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, phosphorus, palladium, platinum, potassium, sodium, silicon, silver, strontium, tin, titanium, and vanadium, while copper, zinc, and magnesium will be measurable at sub-ppm sensitivity.