Sulfur determination in concrete samples using laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy and limestone standards
A LIBS equipment operating at 532 nm was optimized and used for sulfur determination in concrete samples. The influence of He atmosphere in a gas-tight chamber (1000–200 mbar) on S I 921.29 nm line sensitivity, signal-to-background and signal-to-noise ratio was studied at gate delays 100–2000 ns. Wide range of gate delays from 500 to about 1000 ns and pressures from several hundreds of mbar to the atmospheric pressure can be used for the desired detection of sulfur. The LIBS quantification was done using a simple calibration method. A synthetic limestone enriched by defined amounts of sodium sulfate was newly employed for direct quantification of S in concrete. This powder material was pressed into pellets and ablated with the LIBS system. The average content of sulfur as SO3 in the samples was 0.41–0.70 wt% by LIBS and 0.43–0.61 wt% by a reference standard procedure employing gravimetry and Inductively Coupled Plasma Triple Quad Mass Spectrometry (ICP-QQQMS). The uncertainty of the yielded LIBS results covers also the dispersion of the points in the calibration line and ranges from 16 to 28% at the probability level of 95%. The uncertainty of the ICP-QQQMS results was almost 10%. No correction on different signal response on the limestone and on the concrete was necessary.