The elemental composition of materials is often a critical parameter in product quality and safety. For example, the correct composition of raw material feed to a cement kiln is critical for smooth operation and maximum efficiency. Equally as important, the presence of potentially harmful elements such as sulfur, sodium, potassium and mercury, must be carefully monitored as these can interfere with the process or damage the environment. The technique best suited to accomplish the analyses depends on the material, its location, and industry-specific criteria.

When precise analyses with minimal sample preparation are required, X-ray fluorescence (XRF) is an attractive technique to consider. It has become the 'gold standard' for analyses in many industries. XRF is especially suitable when analyzing solids, powders, slurries, filters and oils. For online-analyses of material transported on belt conveyors, pulsed fast thermal neutron activation (PFTNA) analysis is a valuable technique. Real-time elemental analyses enable feed forward and feed back control that is critical in many processes.