18th INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM ON WASTE MANAGEMENT
AND SUSTAINABLE LANDFILLING / 11-15 OCTOBER 2021

Workshop: X-ray fluorescence for rapid waste characterisation

SESSION E03 / 12 October 2021 / 09:00 - 10:30

Workshop: X-ray fluorescence for rapid waste characterisation

Chair / Presidente: Florian Part (AT)


This workshop provides an introduction to handheld/portable X-ray fluorescence (PXRF) instruments as a rapid and easy-to-handle tool for solid waste characterisation. PXRF allows determining the elemental composition of large sample sizes (in-situ) without any further sample preparation steps. In this way, PXRF systems can be used to monitor diverse and heterogeneous waste streams to be able to make quick decisions on their further treatment. For example, it can be decided – also on-site – within a few minutes, if the material is suitable for recycling in case it contains valuable components, or if the material has to undergo a specific treatment before disposal in case it contains hazardous substances. PXRF allows an on-site sample analysis, whereas conventional analytical instruments are located in laboratories, which means relatively few samples have to be transferred to a laboratory and need to be prepared (e.g. using microwave-assisted digestion) prior to being analysed, for instance, via ICP-OES or GC-MS. This process is time-consuming and days pass before the results are available to make a final decision on how to adequately handle different materials. Using the example of sewage sludge ashes, our PXRF results showed acceptable accuracy for the elements Ca, Cu, Fe, P, Pb, Sn and Zn, while the results for other elements, such as Cr, K and Mg, showed larger deviations from ICP-OES data. The other case study on Br detection in plastics from WEEE showed that a very large sample size was feasible regarding time costs, and the lower limit of detection was sufficient for quantification. In summary, PXRF is a promising method to be used on-site for screening waste streams to quickly detect both valuable substances or contaminants, such as Cu or Br. The scope of this workshop is to provide a short introduction to the basics of PXRF and information on limitations and analytical parameters regarding the accuracy of measured concentrations. In addition, the introduction covers an overview of currently available devices and safety considerations. New findings on the analyses of sewage sludge ashes and plastics from WEEE will also be presented. Finally, a group discussion in form of a “world café” closes the workshop to allow an exchange of experiences between the groups and to specify the needs and challenges in using PXRF technology. Introductory lectures:

  • C. Zafiu (AT)

    Principles, limitations and available PXRF devices

  • S. Neubauer (AT)

    Application study on sewage sludge ashes

  • A. Jandric (AT)

    Application study on plastics