Laboratory Technologies

21 Jan 2016

Large Scale Hexavalent Chromium Testing Now a Possibility in PNG

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After a great deal of research and a couple of false starts with unresponsive suppliers, Tata Telawika, the Unitech Laboratory’s Scientific Officer and Laboratory Manager took delivery of the latest SEAL Analytical AQ2 Discrete Analyser in October 2012

Papua New Guinea University of Technology (PNG UNITECH), located in the industrial city of Lae, the second largest city in Papua New Guinea is the only technological university in Papua New Guinea and island nations of the South Pacific. It offers programs in engineering, natural sciences, built environment and business. Within the University, The Department of Agriculture is the leading academic department providing agricultural science training with 15 academic staff very active in research and community outreach activities.

 The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research set up the Unitech Analytical Services Laboratory in 2008 to commission research in PNG’s agricultural and food industries and to support in-country post-graduate research.  The Laboratory also offers commercial services testing food, water, plants and soils.

 After a great deal of research and a couple of false starts with unresponsive suppliers, Tata Telawika, the Unitech Laboratory’s Scientific Officer and Laboratory Manager took delivery of the latest SEAL Analytical AQ2 Discrete Analyser in October 2012. Up until this time Tata had been conducting all analysis using a UV Spectrophotometer, which was not only time consuming, it also reduced the range of testing the Laboratory could conduct. To some extent the lack of automation was negatively impacting not only on the research capabilities of the Laboratory but also the revenue they could generate because there simply weren’t enough hours in a day to conduct the range of tests demanded by commercial customers and post-graduate students. Tata had been specifically looking to conduct Hexavalent Chromium testing, which involved a significant and prohibitive amount of work on the existing UV Spectrophotometer.

Thanks to the fully automated SEAL Analytical Discrete Analyser what was once a long process involving the preparation of reagents, trying to match the metrics of the sample and the manual de-colourisation, is a thing of the past. Tata is now running about thirty Nitrate samples per day, unattended, freeing his time and allowing the Laboratory to take on more work- it’s almost like gaining an additional team member! With increased capacity the Unitech Lab is now able to offer not only soil sampling, it is also able to test water samples for parameters such as sulphate and phosphate.

“The Discrete Analyser’s detection limits are very impressive because it can go down to very low levels and it’s very robust. We can also get very good recovery for our extractions” said Tata Telawika. “The Discrete Analyser has also been very easy for our post-graduate students to learn, and after only 1 week of training they can all handle the analyser themselves”.

Timeliness is an issue for every laboratory and prior to the Discrete Analyser; there were some tests the Unitech Lab couldn’t do because there simply wasn’t enough time. Tests like available P and Phosphates couldn’t be done because there was not enough time to complete the test. Now, with the Discrete Analyser being fully automated and online, Tata can get it running whilst he is doing other things, which is a huge improvement over his previous manual methods. The Discrete Analyser also allows the University to deliver analytical results to external clients quicker.

Tata talked about why he chose a SEAL analyser “ I was so impressed to find out the SEAL analyser methods were all standardised and validated (USEPA validated methods), which frees up our time to do other things”. “It’s also possible to carry out multiple analysis at the same time, which is not something we could do with our UV Spectrophotometer”.  “ The Discrete Analyser has lived up to all expectations, it will continue to excel, everyone is passionate about it, all the students can’t wait to get their hands on the analyser it is so popular here”

Tata purchased his SEAL Discrete Analyser from Fluidquip Australia “I was impressed by Fluidquip’s website information as well as the speed of their response to my first email. From the first email to the consolidation of the order and up to the installation I was very impressed with the service”.

Looking to the future, the Unitech lab is planning to use their Discrete Analyser to expand into testing soil samples for the hazardous substance Hexavalent Chromium. Other laboratories currently test soil for industrial waste by measuring total and available chromium, and trace elements in wastewater discharges. There is currently no testing for Hexavalent Chromium in PNG and the Unitech Lab is looking to be the first lab in the country to offer mine affected areas large scale testing. 

Tata hopes to expand his Lab’s capabilities and increase his throughput by adding a SEAL Block Digestion System to his facilities. The Block Digestion system will speed up the process and make it easier to add food sample testing for total nitrogen and kjeldahl nitrogen to the University’s capabilities.





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