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May 2006 edition

Helium flush mechanism sheds lights on aircraft alloys

Thermo Electron Corporation is commercially producing a new portable XRF analyser with a helium flush mechanism designed to improve testing of specially-engineered aircraft alloys.

Material testing is becoming increasingly complex as advanced new alloys are developed for air and space travel.

Todd Houlahan, manager sales and marketing for TEC’s NITON Analyzers Europe, said: “Previous models of portable XRF analysers over the past 50 years have not been able to fully address aerospace requirements because they could not accurately measure light elements Al, Si, Mg commonly used in Al and RTi alloys.”

But TEC researchers and developers had introduced the helium flush mechanism into a portable XRF. Houlahan added: “This, previously only done in laboratory instruments, allows us to measure these elements now. So it’s a new concept incorporating a new part into an existing system.”

Full-scale production started recently after research led by Professor Lee Grodzins, formerly of MIT Boston.

The NITON XLt 898He provides laboratory-quality chemical analysis of materials including aluminium and titanium alloys, nickels, superalloys and stainless steels.

Houlahan said: “When activated the XLt 898He system fills the interior of the XLt’s measurement head with pure Helium. This purges atmospheric air from the x-ray analysis path and allows light element x-rays to contact the XLt’s high resolution x-ray detector.”

He said the XRF analyser could directly quantify Si and Mg levels in alumini....

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