ultraWAVE opens the doors to new research frontiers in analytical geochemistry

University of Houston


The high-precision elemental data obtained from this laboratory at University of Houston has been providing key support for various scientific projects funded by NSF and NASA to address the evolution history and related material and recycling on the Earth, moon and other planets. The Department of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences laboratory conducts crude oil trace element analysis for the petroleum industry and studies kerogen, oil generation processes and geochemical inversion. Using advanced instrumentation, the scientists are able to achieve multi-element analysis in solutions or solids for trace metals, including rare earth elements.


“Multiple projects were conducted at the facility concurrently and we experienced an immediate need for better instrumentation to replace our current traditional bomb method of digestion, lasting greater than 48 hours for the toughest of samples.”
A complete digestion without any analyte loss (complete recovery) was critical for their quantitative analysis.
The use of HF acids was critical for them as well, and so was the ability to eliminate organic matrices in crude oil for interference-free analytical measurements. Various types of materials are routinely analyzed in this lab center, including silicate rocks/minerals, polymers, biological material, and crude oils.
The Milestone ultraWAVE is ideal for elemental and isotope geochemical labs routinely using ICP-OES, Q-ICP-MS, QQQ-ICP-MS and MC-ICP-MS, requiring complete recovery of sample analytes, and flexible sample processing.
Dr. John Casey @ The ICP Research Laboratory in the Department of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences at University of Houston
  • University of Houston


With the aid of the ultraWAVE microwave digestion system, that can digest up to 22 samples with mixed acid including HNO3, HCl and HF under high temperatures (up to 260°C) and high pressure (up to 150 bar), the laboratory has been successfully digesting various geological rock samples (mantle rock, volcanic rock, sediment and metamorphic rocks), zeolite, polymers, and heavy crude oils.
The research scientists at the end were able to detect up to 57 trace elements in crude oils down to sub-ppb levels for crude oil characterization.


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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The Milestone ultraWAVE allows us to digest a variety of tough geological materials such as zircons and we will heavily rely on it during this challenging project.
University of Houston