Analysis of Major and Minor Elements in Cement-Pressed Powders

This application note shows that the Epsilon 4 – a high-performance energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence spectrometer – is capable of analyzing major and minor elements in cement samples.

Application background

X-ray fluorescence spectrometry is used extensively for the analysis of cements and associated raw materials. Simple sample preparation, high accuracy and precision are the main reasons for this choice. Accurate cement analysis is important for many reasons, for example, superior process control with associated cost savings; minimizing and controlling contamination and environmental pollution during cement manufacture; quality control of products; and pure research. To show the capabilities of the Epsilon 4, major and minor elements in cement pressed powders were measured and the results are shown in this application note.


Measurements were performed using an Epsilon 4 EDXRF spectrometer, equipped with a 10W, 50kV silver anode X-ray tube, six filters, a helium purge facility, a high-resolution silicon drift detector, a spinner and a ten-position removable sample changer.

Sample preparation

The samples were prepared by grinding 5g cement material with 0.5g of binder (wax). After grinding, the mixture was pressed into a pellet of 32mm diameter (20 tons, 30s dwelling time).

Measurement procedure

Eleven cement standards from China were used to set up a calibration for nine major oxides (Ca, Si, Al, Fe, S, Mg, K, Ti, and Na). Two different measurement conditions were used, each one optimizing the excitation of a group of elements.

Accurate calibration results

Calibration plots for MgO in cement pressed pellets show a good correlation between the certified concentrations and the calculated concentrations. Detailed results for MgO and the other compounds are listed in Table 2 (below).


To test the analytical precision of the instrument, one cement sample was measured ten times consecutively. The certified concentration, average concentration, and the RMS (1 sigma standard deviation) are expressed in Table 3.


The results clearly demonstrate that the Epsilon 4 EDXRF spectrometer is suitable for the analysis of major and minor compounds in cement.

Accurate, reliable and repeatable results are obtained in three minutes measuring time per sample.

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