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Laboratory manager XRF analyst Esmé Spicer Tel: (021) 8084788 Fax: (021) 8084791 Email: Soil Analyst Mr M W Gordon Tel: (021) 8084788 Fax: (021) 8084791 Email: Water Analyst Me Wernich Foit Food Science Water laboratory

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Laboratory manager

XRF analyst

Esmé SpicerTel: (021) 8084788Fax: (021) 8084791Email:

Soil AnalystMr M W GordonTel: (021) 8084788Fax: (021) 8084791Email:

Water AnalystMe Wernich Foit

Food Science Water laboratory

Tel: (021) 8084788Fax: (021) 8084791Email:

Sample Preparation TechnicianMr H AchillesTel: (021) 8084788Fax: (021) 8084791e-mail:

Environmental LaboratoryCentral Analytical Facility - Stellenbosch UniversityVictoria Street, Lombardi Building, Room 3016

The Environmental laboratory undertakes analysis of soil, sediment, rock, water and plant materials for environmental, ecological, geological and agricultural investigations. The laboratory is equipped with a range of sophisticated modern equipment, such as atomic absorption spectrometry, ion chromatography, elemental combustion analysis, UV-visible spectrometry, titrimetry, pH, Redox, electrical conductivity measurements, and X-ray fluorescence spectrometry.

flame atomic absorption spectrometry aas
Flame Atomic Absorption Spectrometry (AAS)
  • The lab is equipped with two dedicated AAS instruments: the Varian Spectra AA-250 PLUS and the more modern Varian AA 240FS. The latter is fast sequential, meaning that it can determine more than one element in a sample before moving to the next sample. One instrument is dedicated to trace elements (e.g. zinc, copper, lead) and the other to major elements such as calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium. Calibrations are performed with certified standard reference materials from Riedel-de Haen®. Detection limits are in the ppm range, depending on the method and matrix. International reference materials are used for precision tests.
  • Sample requirements: liquid samples 20 ml, solid soils 1 kg, plant materials 20-100 g (confirm with Matt Gordon)
  • Some sample preparation is required, prior to the final analysis, for soil and plant samples. This involves drying, crushing, milling, extraction and digestion of the samples. The sample preparation and pre-preparation for the ICP-MS laboratory can be undertaken by the laboratory if clients do not have their own facilities.


elemental analysis carbon hydrogen nitrogen
Elemental analysis (carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen)
  • The EA Euro 3000 is a compact, fully automatic elemental analyzer for the determination of total wt% C, H and N in soil, plant and solid samples. It is based on innovative turbo-flash combustion technology employing pressurized oxygen injection and represents a quantum leap in the art of dynamic flash combustion as well as high temperature (HT) pyrolytic oxygen and hydrogen analysis for elemental and isotopic analysis. Detection limits are typically 0.01 wt%, depending on the material. Calibration is performed with certified standards from Eurovector® and these are also used for routine quality control.
  • Sample requirements: solid samples 10 g

EA Euro 3000

ion chromatography
Ion chromatography
  • The DX-120 ion chromatograph is used for a multitude of water-soluble anions in aqeous matrices. The instrument combines efficient isocratic separations with digital conductivity detection to provide highly selective and sensitive analyses of soil water extracts and water samples. This instrument is fully automated allowing a large sample throughput. Typical analytes are nitrate (NO3-), nitrite(NO2-), chloride(Cl-), sulfate (SO42-), Phosphate (PO43-) and fluoride (F-). Detection limits are typically in the ppm range and calibration is performed with certified reference materials from Dionix® and these standards are used for routine quality control.
  • Sample requirements: Liquid 10 ml, solids 20g

DX-120 Ion


x ray fluorescence spectrometry xrf
X-Ray Fluorescence Spectrometry (XRF)

XRF is ideal for rapid and accurate whole bulk elemental analysis in rock or soil samples. The gas-flow proportional counting detector and scintillation detector, or a combination of the two, are used to cover the elements fluorine to uranium. Major elements are analysed on a fused glass bead and trace elements are analysed on a powder briquette. A wide range of international (NIST®) and national (SARM®) standards is used in the calibration procedures and quality control (precision and accuracy) for both major and trace element analyses. Detection limits for the elements quoted, depending on the matrix (combination of elements present), are typically 0.5 ppm.Loss on Ignition (LOI) is a test used in XRF major element analysis which consists of strongly heating a sample of the material at a specified temperature, allowing volatile substances to escape or oxygen is added, until its mass ceases to change. The L.O.I. is made of contributions from the volatile compounds H2O+, OH-, CO2, F, Cl, S; in parts also K, Na (if heated for too long); or alternatively added compounds O2 (oxidation, e.g. FeO to Fe2O3), later CO2 (CaO to CaCO3).

Sample requirements (Milled)

Major elements: 5 g

Trace elements:10 g

other analyses and services offered to environmentalists
Other analysesand services offered to environmentalists
  • Routine determinations of pH, EC (electrical conductivity), redox potential and spectrophotometry are also performed on aquous samples. Other specialized extractions and analysis (acid dissolutions, ammonium-acetate extractions, water extractions, EDTA extractions) of plants, soil, water, effluents and fertilizers can be carried out on request. Detection limits are strongly method dependant. Known certified reference materials are used for pH EC, Redox potential analysis and extractions calibration and routine quality control.
  • Sample requirements: confirm with Matt Gordon
Environmental Laboratory Analyses user pricelist (prices quoted per sample, VAT excl for industry projects )
Environmental Laboratory sample preparation pricelist (prices quoted per sample, VAT excl for industry projects )
environmental laboratory water division
Environmental Laboratory Water division
  • The Environmental laboratory serves the water community by offering the following analyses:
    • Basic Drinking water tests
    • Basic Sewage water tests
    • Basic and Specialised microbiological testing (MPN+MUG method, Colilert, Pseudomonas spp., Klebiella spp., Surface counts, Microcystis toxicity / toxins)
    • Eutrophication test package (including Chlorifil a content)
    • Trace and ultra-trace element analysis (ICP Laboratory, Riana Rossouw, tel 3114,