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Status of Sample Combustion and Graphitization Lines at INFN-LABEC, Florence

  • M E Fedi (a1), V Bernardoni (a2), L Caforio (a1) (a3), G Calzolai (a1) (a3), L Carraresi (a1) (a3), M Manetti (a1), F Taccetti (a1) and P A Mandò (a1) (a3)...


Since installation of the new accelerator at INFN-LABEC in Florence in 2004, the workload has progressively increased in the radiocarbon dating laboratory, requiring a faster sample preparation throughput and greater versatility to allow for a larger variety of treated materials. The “standard” sample preparation line is based on an elemental analyzer (EA) for the combustion of the pretreated samples, and a vacuum line where the CO2 is collected and then converted to graphite. This line has been recently redesigned while maintaining the EA, since this instrument provides us reliable and fast sample combustion and separation of gases. The volumes were optimized and all the mechanical parts (e.g. the fittings) were changed in order to improve the vacuum level, thus decreasing the possibility of contamination; finally, the number of graphitization reactors was doubled (from 4 to 8). In those rare cases involving samples characterized by a complex nearly graphitic structure (e.g. burnt residues), the EA might not guarantee a complete combustion. For these samples, we successfully tested the new sample preparation line that has been recently installed at LABEC and especially dedicated to aerosol samples. This line is equipped with a custom-made combustion oven able to heat to 1000 °C. The subsequent gas separation is accomplished by chemical and thermal traps. As an example, the dating of organic matter collected from an Etruscan bronze statue will be presented and discussed.


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