SEM in Cement Industry

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Equipment used:

VEGA3 XM

A fully PC controlled SEM with conventional tungsten heated cathode intended both for high vacuum as well as for low vacuum operations.

TESCAN USA

A scanning electron microscope (SEM), equipped with an X-ray detector, is an effective instrument for in-depth analysis of various materials. In the construction industry, the combination of SEM and energy dispersive X-ray microanalysis (EDS) is used particularly for quality control and verification of material composition. Samples of cement and cement additives (powdered gypsum and fly ash), from Israel’s sole producer of cement, were examined using the powerful VEGA3 SEM with a lanthanum hexaboride (LaB6) electron source. Compared to a heated tungsten (W) filament, LaB6 provides higher resolution, brightness and longer lifetime. The chemical composition of a fly ash particle and the element distribution over the sample surface was determined by EDS.

Preface

Cement is a binding material, which is widely used in the construction industry. It is made from limestone, clay and various additives, such as powdered gypsum and fly ash. Gypsum (CaSO4·2H2O) is a common and soft mineral. It is used as a set retarder in the early  stage of hydration. It keeps the mortar of the concrete in a plastic stage for longer time and therefore it prolongs concrete workability. Fly ash is a by-product of coal combustion in power plants. It consists of small spherical particles, which are composed mostly of Al2O3 and SiO2. Instead of releasing fly ash into the atmosphere, as was usual in the past, it is being removed from the exhaust gases and used as an ingredient in cement production. Its addition improves numerous cement properties, like strength and durability. The VEGA3 SEM is an excellent tool for quality control of cement and its additives. Together with an EDS system it enables easy and fast determination of material composition. Moreover, the unique electron optics design (Wide Field OpticsTM) enables the use of special DEPTH scan mode with an increased depth of focus.

Element Distribution map and Spectrum from point analysis

Conclusion

The VEGA3 SEM, which is fully compatible with any EDS system, is a powerful tool for quality control and development in the construction industry. It can be supplied either with heated W or LaB6 filament. The LaB6-equipped VEGA3 SEM allows the microscope user to observe the structure of diverse materials in even greater detail....

Whole application example description please read in attached file.

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