Insights from industry

The New Elzone II Electrical Sensing Particle Size System

AZoNano conducted a series of interviews at the MS&T 07 trade exhibition in Detroit between September 17 and 18. In this interview, John Guerin, Direction of Global Accounts for Micromeitics, talks about their latest developments, products and technologies.

How are you going today, John?

Very well, very well.

Good to hear. How's the show going for you so far, the MS&T show?

So far quite brisk.

Good. You've got a couple of new instruments here you're bringing out in the near future, the Elzone you were telling me about just before?

The Elzone II is a new version of our electrical sensing zone particle size system that we have re-engineered from the ground up and reintroduced. It has added quite a few new capabilities to that technology that heretofore have not been available. This is a technology that's been primarily known to many people as a Coulter principle, a Coulter counter particle size measurement and counting and concentration.

So it differs from other technology that other people use like laster diffraction?

That's correct.

And sedimentary techniques and things like that?

And we have those techniques as well. We have laser diffraction and we have sedimentation principle, but this is new version that does electrical sensing zone.

And so what's the advantage of this technology over the other technologies?

Well for instance, of the two you just mentioned, laser light scattering, you have to know optical properties in the material and you have to model the light scatter so that you can convolute, deconvolute from that particle size distribution. If you don't have optical homogeneous materials, which many mixtures are not, then you have to make an awful lot of assumptions and you have a high degree of inaccuracy. The sedimentation based analysis, you have to have a one density of material because they're sedimenting in a fluid and with an electrical sensing zone, it doesn't depend on light properties, it doesn't depend on density. We're looking at liquid volume being displaced as particles flow through an orifice tube and we're directly reporting the volume distribution of the particles as a function of the volume of liquid they displace. So it's a volume based measurement.

Sounds really interesting. So it's something that's more broad based and a lot easier to use than the other ones, the other techniques?

It's very broad based, it's a fairly fast technique and it also is a very high resolution technique. It's one of the ... I guess one of the industries that it's always been very important to because they have to know very, very precise and if they're just a few particles outside a certain range, they need to know it. There's chromatography columns, the column packing material for instance, is one example of an industry that really needs this technology because it has such high resolution and the ability to ... just a few large or just a few particles in a population.

So what other application areas do you see this being used in?

Well the Elzone itself, the electrical sensing zone technology lends itself to any application. We are using it in pharmaceuticals, we're using it in ceramics, we're using it in minerals. It's very heavily used in minerals, biological, a lot of biological applications. The original development of this was for measuring blood cells. So that technology was for measuring blood cells back in the 1950s I think, not by Micromeritics, but by another company.

Very good. And you've got another device. A new version of the Accupyc coming out shortly?

No, that's ... we have introduced that. The new Accupyc 1340 is kind of the latest in the series of our density instruments that are measuring volumetric displacement, gas displacement and recording true or skeletal density based on gas displacement using the ideal gas law. And we can determine the true volume and, if you know the mass, then the true density of your material, solids, powders, solid material. We can even look at low [unclear] pressure liquids as well and do a concentration of solids and slurries. We have a new computer interface for that and it gives a tremendous amount of reporting capability and we've got [unclear] of all the electronics in the instrument. We also have the ability to control ... it's a small microprocessor controlled instrument, so it can be controlled independent of a computer, or you can connect it to a computer and have a lot more reporting and user interface flexibility. But you also have the ability to daisy-chain a series of the analysis modules together with one control module so you have a tremendous amount of expandability built into the instrument from buying the first unit and then adding on expansion units.

So it sounds like you've done a lot of work to make it more user friendly, more versatile?

Absolutely. One of the things we always do is listen to our customers and try to implement things they've told us they wanted to have over the years.

Excellent. And what other new things have you got coming up for potential clients in the next little while?

We are well known in the gas absorption area, the surface area and pore size distribution as well as catalyst characterisation by chemisorption. And we have added the capability to our standard instruments, both our ASAP-2020 that does physisorption and chemisorption in static volumetric mode. We've added the capability to go to significantly higher pressures. And then in a dynamic or flowing chemisorption system that does a temperature profile type chemical absorption, we've added high pressures capability to that. These are, rather than working in ambient or low ambient up to ambient temperatures, we're talking about going up to pressures as high as 150 psia. And these are very important to people working in the catalysis, fuel cells, hydrogen storage, those are all areas that we've heard from customers over the years that we really need to be able to go to higher pressures. So look at things that are really happening in the real world with our materials.

It sounds like you're catering to the real emerging technologies like fuel cells and hydrogen storage there. They're all big up and comers.


Well it sounds like you're catering to a ... you're looking to get into markets that are rapidly expanding.

Well we ... for many, many years, Micromeritics, just a thumbnail sketch background, we've been around about 45 years. We're based in the Atlanta, Georgia area. Founded by two fellows from the Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia Tech. And for many, many years we were very engineering driven. We can do this, we're going to build an instrument. But for the last 15 years or so, we have made a great effort to turn that around and focus on what our customers want and try to become more market driven by our customers telling us what they need and listening to them through our sales organisations or distribution network and our marketing groups and to collect that information from our customers and try to develop the instruments they want. Seems like a smart way to sell more is to give people what they want.

Sounds like a good way to go to me. So you're pretty much a global organisation these days? You sell in all corners of the globe?

Yes, we do. We do about a third of our business in the United States, about a third of our business in Europe and about a third of our business in the rest of the world. We have direct offices in the United States. Again, our headquarters and manufacturing is done here in the Atlanta area. And then we have five direct offices in Europe, two direct offices in China and then we are approximately 50 distributors that handle our products throughout the rest of the world.

Sounds like you've got pretty good coverage there.

We cover the globe pretty darn well.

Alright then, John. Thanks very much for spending a few minutes with me and best of luck at the show.

Thanks very much for your time.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily represent the views of Limited (T/A) AZoNetwork, the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and Conditions of use of this website.


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