Analytical Sciences

Abstract − Analytical Sciences, 29(4), 441 (2013).

Effects of Ammonium Fluoride on the Decomposition of Geochemical Samples as Fluorinating Agent and Its Analytical Application
Ni ZHANG,* Xiaohong GAO,* Yu SHEN,* Changna WANG,** and Junting WANG**
*Northwest Geological Research Institute for Nonferrous Metals, No. 25, Xiying Road, Xi’an 710054, P. R. China
**Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT 84062, USA
In this work, the effects of ammonium fluoride on the decomposition of geochemical samples were investigated by analyzing some certified reference materials (CRM). The major and minor elements were detected by inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES), while trace and ultra-trace elements were analyzed by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). Decomposition time, temperature and the amount of ammonium fluoride were studied in detail. In the process of sample decomposition, on one hand, ammonium fluoride was used as the fluorinating agent because ammonium fluoride can be dissociated under acid medium to yield fluoride ions to attack silicon compound effectively. On the other hand, ammonium fluoride was used as a latent solvent since ammonium salt may dissolve insoluble fluorine compounds. The removal of insoluble fluorine compounds decreased the memory effect on digestion vessels caused by fluoride coprecipitation. By testing CRMs and many real samples, it was found that trace and ultra-trace elements could be digested using ammonium fluoride instead of hydrofluoric acid and the dissolution ratios of major and minor elements, for example Al, Ca, Mg, Fe, Na and K, improved noticeably. Moreover, the use of ammonium fluoride instead of hydrofluoric acid contributes to a greener environment and safer for operators.