PS Analytical Celebrates Its Silver Jubilee
Sep 17 2008
PS Analytical (PSA) was founded in 1983 initially as a supplier of OEM equipment for the measurement of mercury, arsenic, selenium and
antimony in the environment. By 1984 the company had located to its first commercial premises and in 1995 moved to their current facilities in Orpington, Kent. A US company was opened in 2002 to serve the widening US customer base. From the initial staff of 2 PSA now employs
35 staff directly and operates worldwide through a network of distributors. PSA has worked closely with Universities both in the UK and abroad and has over the years funded 15 PhD programmes.
For more than 20 years PSA has provided industrial training for university students and we successfully use this as our primary recruiting tool. Our worldwide network of distributors ensures our
customers of excellent service and training back up.
From its outset PSA worked with both industry and academic partners and also with legislators to provide instruments and analytical procedures
to supply end users with the technology to meet their measurement needs.
In 1987 PSA introduced the world`s first fully automated laboratory analyser for mercury capable of measuring at parts per trillion levels.
This was motivated in part by the then new legislation from Brussels and the new industry need to analyse a greater number of samples. For these developments PSA worked closely with the UK water industry and Prof Clive Thompson (AlControl, formerly Yorkshire Water Laboratories) in particular.
This instrumentation was based on a technique of vapour generation coupled to a specific atomic fluorescence detector for Hg. In extending the range of applications for mercury to gaseous products PSA cooperated with the University of Ghent, who had devised a collection procedure for mercury from gaseous streams using gold impregnated quartz sand.
In 1991 the Sir Galahad gaseous mercury detector system was introduced. The Sir Galahad was originally designed to measure mercury in air
but was soon extended to natural gas applications and other areas of activity such as mercury in hydrogen, mercury in carbon dioxide
and more recently into the area of coal fired emissions.
In cooperation with the Institute FranÃ§ais du PÃ©trole, Paris, PSA further developed this product to measure mercury in the Petrochemical
Industries, particularly Natural Gas. Measuring mercury in natural gas presents a problem not just of measurement but more interestingly in
sampling. Normally the natural gas is held at levels significantly above atmospheric pressure and collecting a sample for reliable accurate
measurement must take account of this. Mercury itself also presents significant issues with transportation and measurement.
For the direct detection of total mercury PSA was able to develop an offline approach and this system has been used extensively. It is directly compatible with both the ASTM 6350 and ISO 6978-2 standards and is widely recognised as the industry standard. PSA and Amoco cooperated on the design and development of an online system that would be able to provide a truly representative sample and correct measurement
even in a hydrocarbon matrix. These systems continually evolve as we gain greater insight and input from our end users. The software has
become extremely flexible and it enables the systems to be linked to other control computers etc. The systems are designed to meet required
certification specifications, they are installed in explosion proof purged cabinets and are tailored to meet particular onsite conditions.
In addition to designing these systems PSA developed a calibration accessory which enables a set level of mercury to be introduced (a) to the analyser to calibrate or check the calibration and (b) to be introduced to the sampling manifold so that the operator can check performance levels and gain confidence in the measurements obtained. These online systems have been installed worldwide. More recently we have extended the range of applications from purely natural gas to a
natural gas liquid hydrocarbon plant (NGL). The PSA range of continuous emission monitors measure mercury levels from coal fired utilities,
meeting and often exceeding national standards.
Whilst PSA`s primary focus has been on the measurement of mercury, the introduction of the Millennium Excalibur atomic fluorescence spectrometer systems has been used extensively for the determination of total arsenic, selenium and antimony. The Millennium Excalibur has also
been successfully coupled to chromatographic separation techniques to determine the speciation profiles of arsenic, selenium and antimony in a range of samples, offering a wide dynamic range and excellent sensitivity for these applications.
Managing Director of P S Analytical, Prof Peter Stockwell said âPS Analytical`s aim is to ensure that our customers obtain reliable and accurate data, by designing and developing instrumentation that
is âfit for purposeâ. We see this as a partnership and provide support for all our customers across the globe. Utilising our expertise both in design and development of instrumentation and research into the methods for the measurement of mercury and the hydride forming elements and combining this with our customers` background experience of their individual products and requirements, we are able to achieve our goalsâ.
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