Pressure Assisted Chelating Extraction: A New Technique for Digesting Metals in Solid Matrices


This work describes a novel technique for the digestion of metals in solid matrices. The technique is called pressure assisted chelating extraction (PACE). In a typical procedure, a solid sample is placed in a stainless steel cell and is mixed with appropriate chelating agents. Using a programmed sequence of temperature, static time, pressure and thermal equilibration available in ASE 200TM, the metal is removed under moderate temperature (up to 200 °C) and pressure (up to 3000 psi). PACE achieves metal recovery that is equivalent to that of wet digestion techniques and also provides for a clean and safe operation by substituting the strong acids commonly used during wet digestion with chelating agents. It uses less solvents and significantly less time (minutes vs. hours) for metal digestion. PACE has been validated using certified standard reference materials (SRMs) including industrial sludge, buffalo river sediments and coal fly ash. The total time required to remove metals was ∼20 min. Results show that the PACE system provides an ideal platform for efficient, rapid, and safe metal digestion. Good agreement between measured and reference values for Pb, Mn, and Cu were found with recoveries averaging between 80 and 101% and a relative standard deviation of less than 5%. This approach may provide an alternative digestion technique for environmental samples, alloys, biological materials and samples of geological importance. The potential advantage offered lies in non-destruction of the sample, automation and the exclusion of concentrated mineral acids during the digestion procedure.



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