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Fire Assay » FIFA Furnace

FIFA Furnace


 

The FIFA (Fast In-line Fire Assay) furnace was developed at IMP as part of the development of a fully automated fire assay system from sample preparation to final OES analysis of the Pb button. The conventional manual fire assay furnace could not be used in an automated system as crucibles cannot be loaded and unloaded from it by robot. It was therefore essential to develop a completely new type of furnace which would not cause heat damage to the robot loading and unloading it.

 

The FIFA furnace is designed with four crucible loading positions at the base of the furnace. The platforms holding the crucibles are raised and lowered pneumatically into the furnace from the bottom. As the furnace has no doors, heat is retained efficiently during transfer of crucibles unlike conventional manual fire assay furnaces in which much heat is lost when the doors are opened. The furnace temperature can be set to a maximum of 1300ºC. The furnace uses standard Kanthal wire elements.

 

The furnace has been designed so that all wear parts can be easily replaced. The base pad on which the crucible sits can be easily replaced if it becomes worn or damaged by hot flux or slag. The roof of the furnace slowly suffers wear due to the corrosive fumes emanating from the fusions, but can be easily replaced once the furnace has been switched off and allowed to cool.

 

The cup containing the mixed sample and flux is taken from the fluxer by robot to the loading station where the sample and flux charge is added to a pre-heated crucible. The crucible is then moved by robot to the FIFA fusion furnace where it is fused for typically 15 minutes but can be any time period set by the PrepMaster software. After fusion the crucible is moved by robot to a Cowan separator where the molten Pb is separated from the slag and cooled to form a solid Pb button. The Pb buttons are then analysed for PGEs, Au and Ag by OES on an ARL FAA spectrometer.

 

The FIFA system works most efficiently if samples are fused using PG 28 flux, a flux especially formulated by IMP for the FIFA system. PG 28 includes NaOH (caustic soda) in place of the normally used sodium carbonate as this allows for much quicker fusion times.

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FIFA Furnace

FIFA Furnace.pdf

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