A new Simultaneous Thermal Analysis – Mass Spectrometry (STA-MS) set is ready for use at the NFI Laboratory

The STA-MS equipment in action

A new Simultaneous Thermal Analysis – Mass Spectrometry (STA-MS) set is now ready for use at the Nuclear Futures Institute of Bangor University!

We were able to purchase the equipment due to a generous Infrastructure Accelerator Award from the Sêr Cymru scheme to Dr. Simon Middleburgh and comprises a Netzsch STA 449 F-series simultaneous thermal analyser and a Netzsch QMS 403 Aëolos Quadro mass spectrometer and sits within our MERLIN labs.

During simultaneous thermal analysis, a sample is placed inside a furnace with a controlled atmosphere (which can be an inert gas, regular air, vacuum or even a gas that may react with the sample) and both the mass of the sample and the heat that it exchanges with its surroundings are constantly monitored.

The collected data allows the user to detect if and when a material melts, evaporates, decomposes, rearranges its crystal structure or chemically reacts with another. To further complement this wealth of data, the gases coming from the furnace outlet are then fed into a mass spectrometer to determine their composition, identifying any volatile species released by the sample and providing additional insight on the physical and chemical processes occurring in the sample.

With the addition of a humidity generator, which will soon expand the set, our researchers will also be able to test materials in conditions more similar to those in a nuclear reactor. The STA-MS setup will be an invaluable tool in designing and testing new materials for the nuclear industry and in optimizing their chemical preparation.