Frequently Asked Questions

Which Total Organic Halogen method should I use?
When time is of the essence and personal are adequately trained in the SAMPLE COLLECTION, PRESERVATION, HANDLING and TESTING procedures, the field test has been approved for use.

If the personal are not trained or confident in performing the analysis and are able to wait a day or less for results, another option is available.

The Rapid turn-around-time (TAT) Total Halogens Test: (ASTM 9076)

Used oil transporters, generators and facilities that recycle or re-refine used oil can expedite TOX analysis with precision utilizing the most current ASTM methods. We offer certified same day testing of waste oils, contaminated soils, waters and hazardous wastes. Disposable mercury kits are hazardous to use and dispose of and are less accurate than the micro-coulometric method that measures halogenated compounds from 10ppm to percent level. Reliable measurement is critical for proper management and disposal of waste materials. This test method also covers the determination of total chlorine in new and used oils, fuels and related materials, including crankcase, hydraulic,diesel, lubricating and fuel oils, and kerosene by oxidative combustion and microcoulometry. The chlorine content of petroleum products is often required prior to their use as a fuel.

What are the precautions when using Field Test Kit Methods for Halogens? (ASTM 9077)
NOTE: Warning–All reagents are encapsulated or contained within ampoules. Strict adherence to the operational procedures included with the kits as well as accepted safety procedures (safety glasses and gloves) should be observed.
NOTE: Warning–When crushing the glass ampoules, press firmly in the center of the ampoule once. Never attempt to recrush broken glass because the glass may come through the plastic and cut fingers.
NOTE: Warning–In case of accidental breakage onto skin or clothing, wash with large amounts of water. All the ampoules are poisonous and should not be taken internally.
NOTE: Warning–The gray ampoules contain metallic sodium. Metallic sodium is a flammable water-reactive solid.
NOTE: Warning–Do not ship kits on passenger aircraft. Dispose of used kits properly.
NOTE: Caution–When the sodium ampoule in either kit is crushed, oils that contain more than 25% water will cause the sample to turn clear to light gray. Under these circumstances, the results may be biased excessively low and should be disregarded.
What interferences exist when using Field Test Kit Methods for Halogens? (ASTM 9077)
Free water, as a second phase, should be removed. However, this second phase can be analyzed separately for chloride content if desired.
What is the approved method for measuring Ultra low Sulfur diesel Fuel?
There are several methods available. We use certified method ASTM D5453 – 16e1 Ultraviolet Fluorescence which measures Sulfur (S) as low as 5ppm. We have rapid turn-around-time (TAT) for your convenience.
Is all diesel fuel Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel? (ULSD)
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued new standards to improve air quality. To meet EPA standards, the petroleum industry is producing Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel (ULSD) fuel, a cleaner- burning diesel fuel containing a maximum 15 parts-per-million (ppm) sulfur.
What is the Sulfur content of low sulfur diesel Fuel? (LSD)
Before 1993, the allowable sulfur level in diesel fuel was 5,000 parts per million (ppm). From 1993 until 2006, the allowable sulfur was 500 ppm.

Low sulfur diesel (LSD) was replaced with ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) in 2006 as part of an initiative to substantially lower the emissions of particulate matter in diesel engines. The initiative began in the European Union and later expanded to the United States.

When will Northeastern States require ultra-low sulfur heating oil (ULSHO)?
In 2012, New York, which at the time had over a million households using heating oil, was the first northeastern state to set a home heating oil sulfur content standard to 15 ppm.

Massachusetts, New Jersey and Vermont followed suit with a less-stringent 500 ppm standard in 2014, but are all going to require ULSHO by 2018.

What are the structural elements of wood and how are they measured?
The structural elements (ultimate analysis) of the organic portion of wood are carbon (45 – 50 percent), oxygen (40 – 45 percent), hydrogen (4.5- 6 percent) and nitrogen (0.3 – 3.5 percent). The distinct advantage of woody biomass over fossil fuels is the small amount of sulfur. The ultimate analysis of some tree species show that carbon and hydrogen contents are rather uniform among species. Bark has a higher percentage of carbon and hydrogen than wood.

A Carbon Hydrogen and Nitrogen Analyzer can be used for CHN analysis or combustion analysis to determine the carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen content in coal, coke, petroleum, biomass products and other combustibles.

Sterling Analytical uses state-of-the-art LECO Instruments to provide superior accuracy and reliability. LECO Combustion Analysis successfully detects low levels of carbon, sulfur, nitrogen, oxygen and hydrogen (from 0.1 to 100 percent, depending upon the sample type).

Performed in accordance with ASTM D5373, LECO Combustion Analysis methods include: Carbon, Hydrogen, Nitrogen, and Oxygen analysis. SULFUR analysis is performed in accordance with ASTM D1552 (OIL) and ASTM D4239 (SOLID).

Applications for combustion analysis involve only the elements of carbon (C), hydrogen (H), nitrogen (N), and sulfur (S) as combustion of materials containing them convert these elements to their oxidized form (CO2, H2O, NO or NO2, and SO2) under high temperature high oxygen conditions. Notable interests for these elements also involve measuring total nitrogen in food or feed to determine protein percentage, measuring sulfur (ASTM D4239) in petroleum products and wood products.

Why is chlorine tested in various solid fuels?
Although biomass generally has a low concentration of chlorine compared with coal, heavy corrosion often occurs in a power plants that use biomass fuel causing leaks in the pipes of heat exchangers. Corrosion of heat transfer apparatus is strongly associated with ash deposits in the pipes.

Super-heater steam pipes are generally not designed to accommodate the chlorine in biomass fuels, therefore the concentration of chlorine in wood products impacts power plant outage frequency.

What is the recommended method for Chlorine testing?
Standard Test Method for Total Chlorine in Coal by the Oxygen Bomb Combustion/Ion Selective Electrode Method ASTM D4208-13

What are the environmental concerns associated with biomass combustion?
Wood now ranks as the third most common heating fuel, after gas and electricity, for primary and secondary heating fuel use nationally. According to the United States (U.S.) Census, the number of households using wood heat grew by 34 percent between 2000 and 2010, faster than any other fuel used for residential heating. The northeastern states have seen significantly higher growth in wood used for household heating than the nation at large. The increasing use of wood fuel and specifically wood pellets has raised concerns about potential environmental and public health impacts because little is known about the constituents in these fuels.

Biomass combustion has variable emissions, depending on the types and quality of fuel used, combustion technologies and operating conditions. The quality of the fuel depends mainly on its chemical composition, including water and ash contents, plant species, where it grows (origin), fertilizers and pesticides used, harvesting practices, transport, handling and processing, and blending of plant species type.

The combustion and pyrolysis of wood pellets in stoves produce atmospheric emissions of particulate matter (PM), carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxides (NOx), volatile organic compounds, (VOCs), mineral residues, and to a lesser extent sulfur oxides (SOx).

Biomass with high chlorine content can lead to hydrogen chloride formation during combustion, which can have negative effects on the human respiratory systems and can cause acid rain formation.

Why is mercury a concern in biomass combustion?
Mercury has a negative effect on human health which can cause harm to the brain, heart, kidneys, lungs, and immune system when exposed to high levels.

All biomass fuels have the potential for mercury values above the EPA’s proposed major source MACT limits indicating emissions monitoring or installation of a control technology may be required if new EPA regulations are enacted. Mercury (Hg) emissions from biomass burning (BB) are an important source of atmospheric Hg and a major factor driving the interannual variation of Hg concentrations in the troposphere.

What methods of mercury analysis does Sterling Analytical employ?
EPA Method 7473 (SW-846): Mercury in Solids and Solutions by Thermal Decomposition, Amalgamation, and Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometry (Gold Trap), and
EPA Method 245.1: Determination of Mercury in Water by Cold Vapor Atomic Absorption Spectrometry
What are the holding time requirements for general metals analyses?
All samples submitted for metals analysis can be analyzed up to 6 months, with the exception of Hg(mercury) and CrVI(hexavalent chromium), which must be analyzed within 28 days.
Are there any special requirements for sending a sample for Karl Fischer Moisture analysis?
Karl Fischer Moisture analysis can be extremely matrix dependent, so the best way to insure accurate results is to contact the chemists at the Lab to discuss your particular analysis needs before submitting samples. In addition, samples requiring very low moisture limits can be easily contaminated by improper handling. After all, water is everywhere in one form or another!
Why are soils tested to determine corrosion potential?
The corrosion potential of a soil can be critical to the life of buried pipelines and structures. Soils for corrosion potential are analyzed using a specific 10-Point corrosion potential program. A battery of tests is performed on the sample and assigned a corrosion potential value from 1 to 10 based on the outcome of each test. The sum of all the assigned values determines the overall corrosion potential of the soil, and the need to encase the pipes or structures to prevent rapid deterioration and failure.
What is Ignitability Method SW846 1030 used for?
Ignitability method SW846 1030 is a Department of Transportation (D.O.T.) derived Pass/Fail method for determining the flammability hazard potential of solid materials for transportation purposes. The material is subjected to a specific combustion rate test under controlled conditions to determine the potential flammability hazard of the material being transported.