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Subsurface sampling.

Civil engineering firms considering a construction site need to know that the area is free of hazardous metals, but taking soil samples to a laboratory for analysis is time-consuming. Austin AI LLC, an Austin, Texas, company that develops X-ray fluorescence instrumentation for various industries, has developed an X-ray instrument that can do field characterization of soil that until now required off-site laboratory analysis. Austin AI licensed the technology for the CP-1000 from a prototype developed by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. The CP-1000 is a cone penetrometer, a tool that can go deep below the surface to collect data that characterizes the soil. In general, cone penetrometers have been used to do chemical analysis and were limited to organic materials, according to John Schindler, Austin AI's vice president of R&D. The CP-1000 is equipped with an energy-dispersive X-ray fluorescence sensor in its cone tip. The sensor is capable of detecting hazardous metals, such as arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury, down to concentrations of about 100 parts per million.

The CP-1000 either can be lowered down a predrilled hole or driven into the soil. Data is collected in real time and relayed to a PC at the surface. The unit in the ground contains an X-ray tube and silicon-PIN diode X-ray detector that is enclosed in a hardened-steel housing. A high-voltage supply inside the probe pipe powers the X-ray tube. X-rays are transmitted from the tube, through a propri- etary ceramic window and into the soil. The window is strong enough to pass through rocky soil, Schindler said.

As the probe passes through the ground, it takes readings along the way. When the X-rays are emitted, they stimulate emission from atoms in the soil. The emissions from various metals have specific wavelengths, which the detector identifies and counts. The detected pulses are amplified, sent to a digital pulse processor on the surface, and then on to a computer, where they are processed into a concentration report.

Austin AI, which recently sold a unit to Nikken Sekkei, an engineering firm in Tokyo, said the CP-1000 has potential uses in mining, environmental remediation, and agriculture for applications such as ore body mapping, characterization of harbor sediments, and run-off control.

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Title Annotation:technology focus: INSTRUMENTATION AND CONTROL; Austin AI LLC launches CP-1000 penetrometer
Comment:Subsurface sampling.(technology focus: INSTRUMENTATION AND CONTROL)(Austin AI LLC launches CP-1000 penetrometer)
Author:DeGaspari, John
Publication:Mechanical Engineering-CIME
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2005
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