Compositional Analysis of Tungsten Tool Steels by Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry


  1. Drover, V.
Corporate Authors
Defence R&D Canada - Atlantic, Dartmouth NS (CAN)
High-speed tool steels are used in a number of applications, such as high-speed cutting tools, valves, and turbines, but their composition can be difficult to determine by conventional methods. Using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) for the elemental analysis of Tclass high-speed tool steels is problematic due to their chemical resistance toward acid-based dissolution reagents typically used for ferrous alloys. Development of a suitable method for analysis of high-speed tool steels using available instrumentation, such as ICP-MS, is desirable. In the current study, a hydrogen peroxide-based digest procedure was developed for the dissolution of high-speed tool steels containing 1-18% tungsten, with elemental analysis conducted by ICP-MS. Samples of high-speed tool steels were dissolved in a solution of 6% hydrogen peroxide and 10% aqua regia for determination of tungsten, with subsequent digestion in 50% aqua regia for analysis of remaining alloy elements. The method was successfully applied to a range of high-speed tool steels of different chemical compositions, achieving nearly quantitative recoveries of alloying elements with a high degree of reproducibility.

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Report Number
DRDC-ATLANTIC-TM-2012-169 — Technical Memorandum
Date of publication
01 Oct 2012
Number of Pages
Electronic Document(PDF)

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