The Innov-X portable XRF analyzer is about the size and shape of a large
cordless drill. The base of the handle is broad and flat, serving as a
well-balanced stand for the unit. It has a rugged, blue plastic
housing with a metal snout covering the working end of the miniature
X-Ray tube and PIN diode detector. On top, an HP iPaq computer plugs
into the unit for control and results. The entire analyzer weighs 4.5
pounds and is very easy to handle due to the excellent balance. It has a
battery life of 4-8 hours depending on usage.
One of the key advantages of the Innov-X analyzer is the miniature X-Ray
tube. This is the only X-Ray source used. There are no radioisotopes,
which require Federal registration and special paperwork every year.
You can pick up the Innov-X any time and carry it anywhere without
restrictions. The X-Ray emission levels are very low, and very safe.
Analysis speed can be very quick. You can get results in as little as
10 seconds. The quality of those results depends on the sample content.
With short exposure times, the lighter elements have much higher
uncertainty levels. Common and heavy metals show up clearly and
accurately with short scans. However, the best way to increase accuracy
is to increase scan time. The longer you hold the trigger in, the
better the results. 30-second scans produce quite good results for most
of the middle to heavy elements. A 1-minute scan does a good job on
almost all ordinary samples. For the absolute best results, a 3-minute
scan is needed. Going beyond 3 minutes is of little or no value. For
qualitative detection, sub-minute scans are probably adequate. For
quantitative analysis, stick with longer scans.
Using the Innov-X analyzer is quite easy. At startup, the system
requires an initial calibration cycle of 45 seconds with a calibration
strip clipped onto the working end. After that, the analyzer is ready
to go. With a few taps on the iPaq, you choose the analysis method,
then point and shoot. Indicator lights on the top and back end of the
unit tell you when it is ready and when it is actively emitting X-Rays.
For large samples, you just press the end of the unit against the item
and pull the trigger. For smaller samples, clear plastic tape is a
great way to hold the sample in place over the analyzer window.