At Eco Cat News, we have frequently noted the importance of catalytic converter recyclers in determining the exact quantities of platinum, palladium, and rhodium in any given batch of catalysts. Over the past two decades, new technologies have helped ensure that the industry has become increasingly transparent and honest, with probably the most important aspect being that of assaying. The ability to quickly and accurately analyze a representative sample of the crushed de-canned catalyst has made pricing a much more immediate and fairer transaction.

In the early days of assaying, samples of the fine powder that results from the grinding down of the catalytic converter’s honeycomb core would be sent to an independent laboratory for rigorous testing to be undertaken. Whilst this remains a perfectly viable route for recyclers to go down, more recent technological developments have seen the arrival of the handheld XRF (X-ray fluorescence) device. This is a non-destructive analytical analysis instrument that uses X-ray fluorescence technology to determine each element that is present in a sample by measuring the fluorescent (or secondary) X-ray emitted from a sample when it is excited by a primary X-ray source. By quantifying the elements present in this manner, it offers the recycler a number of advantages over the more traditional methods of catalytic converter testing.

XRF analyzer processHandheld XRF

Analysis using handheld XRF can be done in the field in a matter of seconds, instead of in a laboratory requiring highly skilled analytical professionals, thus significantly cutting the costs of accurate analysis. With the traditional laboratory-based testing techniques taking up to several days to complete, the handheld XRF also speeds up the process.  It also provides real-time compliance testing, including screening of incoming materials and outgoing finished goods, that is required for the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), Proposition 65, Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS), and many other regulations.

There are now on the market a number of XRF devices, of which the  NITON XL3T XRF Analyzer and the Olympus Vanta Element-S Analyzer are reckoned to be amongst the best. Both have rugged and durable designs and excellent accuracy that is akin to laboratory results…



Made in the USA,  The NITON XL3T XRF Analyzer was introduced in 2014 and is both compact and light in weight, (just 1.3 kg.), making it extremely convenient to use. It takes just 30 seconds to analyze a sample with the results shown on a simple to use, color touch screen display. It provides real-time compliance testing, including screening of incoming materials and outgoing finished goods, and has many features designed to improve productivity and profitability.

🟢A Standard Thermo Scientific Data Transfer PC software suite allows for setting operator, the generation custom reports, the printing of analysis certificates, and remote monitoring and operating the instrument hands-free from a PC.

🟢Integrated USB and Bluetooth™ communications provide direct data transfer to PC or networked storage device. 

🟢Optional accessories include a Bluetooth barcode reader, Bluetooth printer, and Bluetooth GPS.


The NITON XL3T XRF Analyzer


Niton XL3T 950 GOLDD

As mentioned, these are just two versions and other manufacturers include Hitachi, Malvern Panalytical, and Bruker. However, we are big fans of the Niton XL3T 950 GOLDD, recommended because it offers:

🟢 Best calibration for auto scrap catalysts samples that Niton has optimized through years of experience

🟢 The best accuracy among all devices, deemed to be the reference point by leaders amongst catalyst recyclers 

🟢 Excellent after-sales service

🟢 First-class training provided by our team

🟢 2-year warranty

The NITON XL3T XRF Analyzer is available from US$ 26,990.

The package includes a waterproof carrying case, shielded belt holster, spare battery pack, and integrated GPS as well as the stand table.




See more about Niton XRF Analyzer


 Olympus Vanta Element-C Analyzer

Using proprietary Axon technology, Olympus Vanta Element-C Analyzer employs application-specific software to improve user productivity and deliver a quick return on inveOlympus Vanta Element-VCA Analyzerstment. The technology uses ultra-low-noise electronics that enable high X-ray counts per second for fast, accurate, and repeatable results. Data export is simple via a USB flash drive, Wireless LAN, or Bluetooth and the analyzer is cloud-enabled. Its touch screen display is clear, bright, and readable in any light and the user can customize which features and functions are displayed on the main screen. Other features include:

🟢Ergonomic buttons and an industrial-grade, push-button joystick that make it easy to navigate with gloved hands.

🟢Embedded GPS to pair results with precise GPS coordinates for documentation and data mapping.

🟢Streamlined reporting and archiving for exceptional data traceability

Olympus Vanta Element-C Analyzer

See more about Vanta XRF Analyzer


Comparison between Vanta VEL-S,  VCA,  VMW & Niton XL3T 800, XL3T 950

Description VEL SDD VCA VMW XL3T 800 XL3T 950
Detector SDD SDD Large Area SDD SiPIN SDD
X-ray Tube Voltage 40kV 50kV 50kV 50kV 50kV
Resolution <140eV <140eV <140eV <185eV <150eV
Counts per Sec (CPS) ~90,000 CPS ~90,000 CPS ~100,000 CPS ~30,000 CPS ~80,000 CPS
Analysis range Both Light & Heavy Elements Both Light & Heavy Elements Both Light & Heavy Elements Only Heavy Elements Both Light & Heavy Elements
IP rated IP54 rated IP55 rated IP55 rated dust and splash proof
External Panoramic Camera No Yes Yes micro camera only
Export Function USB drive, Network Folder, microSD card, Computer USB to Computer
Perform Cal-check No, automatic cal-check before each analysis Auto system check
Initialization ~15-30 secs ~30 secs
Docking Station No Yes Yes Stand table
Spare window films 03 10 10 02 10
MiniUSB Cable No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Optional Fan No Yes Yes No No
Rh, Pd, Pt LOD ~20-30ppm ~20-30ppm ~5-10ppm ~6-16ppm ~5-10ppm

Whichever is your choice, it does require significant expenditure but all offer quick savings against laboratory testing for recyclers that have a regular throughput of scrap catalytic converters. Speedy, professional results will help enhance relationships with catalyst sellers who are looking for fast, accurate pricing.

Following a short training session that manufacturers and dealers usually provide free of charge, the Handheld XRF devices are simple to operate and certainly should be considered as a worthwhile investment for those committed to a long-term, professional and transparent business.