BBH Stolberg

"We are very satisfied with the fast and professional installation of our new Axios system. It was ready for daily work within a very short time thanks to the great support during and after the start-up period."

Dr. Christian Schramm, lab manager at BBH Stolberg

Excelling in lead production

BBH Stolberg bought its first PANalytical Axios X-ray fluorescence spectrometer in 2006. This system has since been used extensively for the analysis of slag from the QSL reactor and for analysis of intermediate products in lead refining. Samples are taken from strategic production steps, milled, pressed in steel holders and subsequently analyzed. The precise knowledge of elemental concentrations in the various process steps enables the optimization of the production process and is used for registration of material flows.

The Axios has been an extremely reliable workhorse for many years. BBH’s lab manager Dr. Christian Schramm is especially happy with its very high uptime and reliable service whereas the operators appreciate the ergonomics of the instrument and the intuitive user interface of the software. That’s why BBH didn’t hesitate to purchase a second system when the need for additional capacity came up. For this new system BBH additionally required the possibility to insert
samples into the instrument without an operator needing to enter the conditioned spectrometer room. This way contamination of the spectrometer and the surrounding lab area by the toxic lead
and its compounds is minimized. Two belts are now connecting the Axios instrument with the adjacent sample prep room through a hole in the wall.

The operator places the samples for measurement on one belt from which they are picked up by the Axios sample changer. The other belt returns the samples after the measurement. The SamTracs software together with a customized, touch-screenbased sample introduction software,
minimizes operator errors. With this new installation BBH Stolberg is now ready for many more years of reliable process control without the risk of contaminating their lab space.

Lead production

For its production of primary lead, BBH Stolberg relies on the environmentally friendly and energy-saving technology of the QSL process (named after the inventors Queneau, Schumann and
Lurgi). Here, lead concentrates and secondary raw material are heated to 1200 °C under oxygen in the QSL reactor, a slightly tilted 33 m long cylindrical pipe. At various locations of the reactor the
products can be harvested and further processed. For example sulfur dioxide gas is converted into sulfuric acid and lead is further purified. Primary lead from Stolberg is used for batteries and accumulators in the automotive industry, in accumulators for emergency power supply and in the
solar industry. The high-grade material from Stolberg is indispensable for manufacturing optical glass and lenses, for protection against radiation as well as against acids, and more.