Characterization Laboratory

CanmetENERGY’s Characterization Laboratory specializes in the analysis of fuels, biofuels, biomass products, fuel-related products and their by-products in solid, liquid or gaseous states. The Characterization Laboratory provides standardized and specialized analytical research services. Its capabilities include a broad range of spectrometric, chromatographic and classical analytical techniques for the provision of standardized testing and research project initiatives.

With active involvement in standards development and research into new analytical techniques and methodologies, CanmetENERGY’s Characterization Laboratory strives to meet the unique needs of Canada's energy technology research. The Characterization Laboratory provides the following services:

  • Standardized Testing
  • Advanced Chemical Characterization
  • Standards Development for Fuels and Test Methods
  • Method Development Activities

Standardized Testing

Along with in-house developed test methods, the Characterization Laboratory offers a range of analytical techniques from the following standards committees: the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) , the Canadian General Standards Board (CGSB) , and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) .

  • Coal, Coke, Combustion Residues, Biomass and Refuse-Derived Fuels Analysis: Some of the testing services include proximate and ultimate analysis, calorific value determination, ash fusion and elemental analysis, including mercury.
  • Petroleum Products, Lubricants and Biofuels Analysis: The Characterization Laboratory’s capabilities in the physical and elemental testing of petroleum products and biofuels include ultra-low sulphur and nitrogen analysis determination of viscosity, acid number, as well as chlorine in pyrolysis oils.
A scientist loads samples onto a gas chromatograph instrument coupled with Mass spectrometer (GCMS) for analysis
A scientist uses a powder x-ray diffraction (PXRD) spectrometer to determine and quantify phases present in a variety of energy R&D related samples
Analysts use a scanning electron microscope coupled with Energy Dispersive x-ray (SEM/EDX) for the determination of the morphology of a sample

Advanced Chemical Characterization

CanmetENERGY’s Characterization Laboratory specializes in advanced chemical characterization focused on energy R&D. Specialized services include:

  • Scanning Electron Microscopy with Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectrometry (SEM/EDX): This instrument is used for imaging, elemental analysis and mapping. Current applications include assessing new catalyst formulations and aiding in the determination and distribution of mineralogical phases present in coal, coke and combustion residues.
  • X-ray Powder Diffraction (XRD): This x-ray technique is a non-destructive method of analysis used to identify diverse crystalline phases in coal, combustion residues, catalysts, etc. Qualitative and quantitative data as well as crystallite size and lattice parameters can be provided, depending upon the client’s requirements. The Characterization Laboratory also has the capability to provide in-situ XRD analysis. This includes the use of various atmospheres and temperatures to identify phase changes.
  • Wavelength Dispersive X-ray Fluorescence (WDXRF) Spectroscopy: This spectrometer is used to determine the elemental distribution — from percent to parts per million levels — in a variety of matrices including coal and coke ash, fly ash, biomass, deposits, catalysts, refuse-derived fuels, biofuels and petroleum products. It can also perform elemental mapping with a 500 micron resolution using an internal CCD camera.
  • Customized Structural Analysis: Scientists can provide authoritative advice on the development of improved catalytic, coking and combustion processes through advanced techniques like XRD and SEM/EDX.
  • Specialized Gas Chromatography (GC) and Mass Spectrometry (MS) Techniques: Gas Chromatography is performed on fuels and related products for organic speciation. Gas chromatography using a variety of inlet systems, detectors, and columns permits analyses such as:
    • Simulated distillation of a variety of liquid fuels and lubricants to ASTM D2887/3710 specifications using a flame ionization detector (FID) and a temperature programmable inlet
    • Refinery Gas Analysis for gaseous samples
    • Oxygenated species qualification and quantification in pyrolysis oils using GC-MS

Standards Development for Fuels and Test Methods

The Characterization Laboratory is actively participating with the CGSB, ASTM, and ISO committees to help set national and international standards for fuels and test methods.

Method Development Activities

The Characterization Laboratory is involved in method development activities supporting Natural Resources Canada’s energy policy including:

  • Analytical method development for alternative fuels research
  • Analytical method development services tailored to support the development of clean coal technologies and advanced fossil fuels.

Managed by CanmetENERGY at the Ottawa (Ontario) Research Centre.