Blog April 2015

Last month we had the annual trip to JEC in Paris. This is the biggest composite show of the year. It is on 3 floors of a massive hall in Paris. Everyone in the business is there, either on their own stand or going round getting free coffees nibbles or something stronger at the other stands. The first stand that I saw coming into the hall was ELG Carbon Fibre. They are the biggest carbon fibre recyclers in the world. The MD is an ex colleague of mine from the old days at SP Systems, Frazer Barnes. After a few minutes of chatting about old times Frazer mentioned that he needed some analysis on the gas given out from his recycling ovens. I said that we could possibly do it on our GC-MS but what it really needed was a TGA-FTIR or TGA-GC-MS. Frazer then piped up that he thought that they had one of those in their lab, but no one knew how to work it. So we have agreed to take the TGA-FTIR at ELG set it up at APD and run the analysis for ELG. This is a great instrument only 18 months old and never really been used. Simply put what it does is, take a sample of material, heat it up -measure any change of weight and any energy given out or taken in by the sample. The gases that are given off by the sample are then sent over to the FTIR spectrometer which gives a continuous analysis of their make up. It is not a simple instrument and will take a bit of work before we can get good data from it. Luckily the thermal analysis part is made by Netzsch and uses their Proteus software. We run Netzsch DSC and DMA instruments that use the same software. The FTIR is from Bruker and we use a Bruker FTIR with OPUS, which again is the same. So at least we have a head start on the software ( which is normally an issue for us “IT-challeneged” Chemists). So when we get this up and running we will have a great facility for looking at the thermal breakdown and evolved gas analysis of polymers, and also as an aside a high quality research grade FTIR spectrometer.

So that was probably worth going to Paris for in itself, but we had lots of other really interesting meetings with potential clients. So all in all it was definitely worth all the aggravation involved in the trip.

I mentioned a few months back that we had ordered a Nikon microscope-well now it has arrived. Apart from some issues getting the PC and microscope to communicate through a Firewire connection ( I thought that system was ditched years ago), it has been great. The images are stunning and once we get fully up to speed with the software I am sure that we will get some great data from image analysis on our laminate samples.

We had a 2 day training course on the Masshunter software package for the GC-MS at the Open University in Milton Keynes. It was always going to be heavy going with 2 days of software. I am now trying to implement what we went through on the course. Its not easy and the help menus and lecture notes don’t always help. There are 5 software packages supplied with the system and it isn’t even that obvious which package you use for which task, and if that isn’t that clear, what are the chances of getting your head around the complexities of a writing a method to do quantitative analysis which includes both samples and calibration standards? I will persevere on this and I will master it ( I did it on software packages that we had on the FTIR microscope so I can do it on this lot-it may just take a bit of time!)

Posted in Uncategorized.