Quinn Cement have upgraded their quality testing machinery with a recent six figure investment in a new PANalytical Zetium XRD (X-ray diffraction) XRF (X-ray fluorescence) analyser. The technology combines the functions of the existing quality testing machinery, and uses X-ray to analyse the properties of all process material throughout the cement manufacturing stages.
Cement manufacturing is a complex and technical process, which requires stringent testing and analysis throughout. At every stage of this process, XRD/XRF technology is used to carry out hourly sample testing to ensure the production of consistently high quality cement. Using a full chemical analysis of the materials allows for the precise tailoring of the chemical composition to achieve the right balance of oxides and minerals.
Before manufacture, each of the raw materials, such as limestone, shales and clays, are analysed, then milled together to produce a finely ground powder, the raw meal.
The chemical composition of the raw meal is critical to producing cement with the right properties, such as the desired strength, setting time, fineness and soundness. Achieving the correct ratio of oxides such as calcium oxide, silicone oxide, aluminium oxide and iron oxide is dependent on frequent sample testing and analysis, which allows the Blend Expert function to manage the addition of required materials to ensure precise chemical levels are achieved.
X-Ray diffraction is used to analyse the free lime content of the kiln feed, and determine the heat control required in the calcination process. This occurs in a high temperature kiln, which burns the raw meal at around 1450 degrees to achieve a free lime content target of below 1%.
In the kiln, chemical reactions occur producing minerals such as Alite, Belite, Ferrite and Aluminates, which are found in the resulting clinker. The hot clinker is cooled and analysed. The chemical makeup of the clinker must also achieve the right standard before it is milled with gypsum into fine cement powder.
Finally, the end product is rigorously tested to ensure it meets all required standards, and independent tests are carried out to verify the quality of cement produced.
The quality of cement produced by Quinn Cement is essential to the company’s success, and ensuring consistency in the quality is a priority, as Don McDonald, Quality Control Manager within Quinn Cement, explains,
“The industry needs to know when they use our product they will get the same high quality results every time. To do this, we have stringent quality control testing and processes in place, and sample testing which goes beyond the required standards set out in EN 197.
As a result, we’re producing excellent quality cement time after time, and this hasn’t gone unnoticed. We’ve established a strong reputation for consistency of quality, which means tradesmen have great confidence in our product.
Investment in this new Zetium XRD/XRF analyser ensures the equipment and technology we use to analyse our product is of the highest standard.”