Total achieves optimum recovery of volatile elements with the ultraWAVE



Total Research and Technology Feluy (TRTF) is based in Feluy, Belgium and is the research and development center for Total’s refining and petrochemicals branch. TRTF’s R&D work is focused on optimizing polymers and catalysts to support the petrochemical branch’s production of olefins, benzene, toluene, xylenes, and styrene, as well as numerous commodity polymers, including polyethylene, polypropylene, and polystyrene. Total’s petrochemical branch serves numerous markets, including the automotive, construction, packaging, medicine, hygiene, and cosmetics. Their chemicals are also used in consumer products, such as fibers, and by film manufacturing companies.


Total’s research and development laboratory in Belgium was experiencing a significant loss of volatile elements while digesting organic samples, which include catalysts, oils and polymers.
They were looking for a system able to get better quality of results. Obtaining analytical data of the highest quality begins with the crucial step of first producing a clear solution of the sample for analysis.
We decided to adopt ultraWAVE because it offers innovation and real improvement for our lab
Isabella Perotti, Technical Expert, Total Research and Technology Feluy
  • Total
  • Total


The ability to use larger sample weights with minimal acid volumes makes ultraWAVE SRC technology better suited to perform sample digestions for a wide and diverse range of matrices. One of the main benefits of the ultraWAVE over rotor-based technology is system’s ability to use vials with loose fitting caps instead of traditional rotors that require a highly manual and time consuming process, both before and after each digestion run. With the ultraWAVE, once the samples are placed into the rack, the vials are then lowered into a larger vessel that contains a base load of acidified water. It is this baseload that absorbs the microwave energy and transfers it to the vial, which allows every vial to react independently within the base load thus ensuring that all samples achieve maximum temperature (up to 250 °C) using pressures of 199 bar with no requirement for venting. Because no venting is needed, recoveries even for the volatile elements, such as mercury, sulfur and even osmium are no longer an issue.


The ultraWAVE is based on the SRC (Single Reaction Chamber) technology, that achieves extraordinary performance capabilities combining microwave heating with a high-pressure reactor which acts simultaneously as microwave cavity and vessel.

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Since switching to the ultraWAVE, the lab can now digest up to 1 g of polymers, which has resulted in a decrease by a factor of 4 on their limit of detection.