The UltraWAVE is a small unit that fits on any benchtop. The cabinet is all stainless steel and the work area is surrounded by a thick acrylic screen which raises and lowers automatically with the top of the SRC chamber. The screen has side doors that allow the operator access to fasten and release the chamber clamp. Interlocks prevent operation unless the chamber clamp is in position and secured. The chamber is 1 liter capacity, manufactured from solid stainless steel, cooled by a water jacket, and fitted with a PTFE liner. The 1500w microwave power source is located at the base of the chamber, and optimized for even distribution of microwave energy. Samples sit in a liquid “load” which insures conditions are consistent from run to run. The SRC chamber is fitted with a transducer type direct pressure sensor and a thermocouple type temperature sensor. This means that every sample is under direct pressure and temperature control, giving unmatched control of the digestion process. Sample racks are available in several sizes, though the most popular is the 15 position rack which holds 15x15mL vials (glass, quartz or TFM). The chamber top is lowered and raised automatically by electric motors and secured by a clamp which is safety interlocked to prevent operation without the clamp in position. Prior to the start of the microwave program, the chamber is pressurized to 40 bar with N2 from a standard gas bottle or lab gas supply. This acts as a “cover” over the vials to prevent boiling and spitting, and eliminate any possibility of cross-contamination.
Following the completion of the microwave program, the chamber is cooled and vented. An interlock then allows the clamp to be released and the chamber opens. Twin exhaust ducts extract any remaining acid fumes away from the work area. Efficient water cooling means cool down time is extremely fast – typically 15 minutes, making overall run time faster than closed vessel digestion. Extremely high temperature and pressure (300 deg. C and 199 bar) conditions can be maintained for extended periods, so any sample type can be digested – even the most refractory materials, and since all samples are held under the same conditions, different sample types (even with different acid chemistries) can be digested in the same run. A further benefit of the high pressure capability is that higher sample weights of organic samples can be digested: for example 15 x 1.25g samples of many organics can easily be digested in the UltraWAVE, giving completely clear digestates on dilution to 15mL, with a total run time of only 35 min.
UltraWAVE offers significant savings over closed vessel digestion in labor cost since there are no digestion vessels to assemble/disassemble, and no vessel cleaning run needed. Productivity is significantly increased since batching of samples into identical types is not required. And no method development is required – a single program can be used for virtually every application. Finally, for high throughput labs there are significant savings in consumables – no vessels, caps, or shields to replace.